UFC 153: Did Anderson Silva Make the Right Decision to Fight Stephan Bonnar?
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
But can we really complain about him saving an entire fight card?
For a short while, UFC 153 was on the verge of suffering the same fate as the ravaged UFC 147 card and even might have ended up like the infamous UFC 151 event "killed" by Jon Jones and Greg Jackson.
Originally, the main event featured a featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Erik Koch, a showcase fight for one of Brazil's favorite sons—then the dreaded domino effect happened.
Koch went down to injury just a little over a month away from fight week and Frankie Edgar stepped in as a last-minute—and much better—replacement.
Aldo went down with a foot injury not even two weeks afterward.
To make matters worse, Quinton Jackson pulled out of his fight with Glover Teixeira due to a rather convenient elbow injury and Vitor Belfort left the card to face Jon Jones at UFC 152.
Just weeks away from canceling UFC 151, Dana White and Zuffa were looking at another nightmare situation. How badly would their stock have fallen with another canceled card?
Enter Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar.
In one of the most unlikely announcements in MMA this year, "The Spider" accepted a fight with "The American Psycho"—saving the Rio de Janeiro card and earning a lot of brownie points with his employers (most likely to the tune of a massive paycheck).
Did Anderson Silva make the right choice?
But did Silva make the right decision? Is any of this in his best interests?
Fighting an opponent like Bonnar has few upsides. As the greatest MMA fighter in history, Silva's stock and ranking in the sport won't rise with a victory over Bonnar.
Even though his title isn't on the line, a loss here will also undo everything his legacy stands for. It would be an even worse career blow than Fedor Emelianenko suffered after losing to Fabricio Werdum in the first round of the Strikeforce Grand Prix.
Plus, Bonnar's not such an easy opponent.
At 6'4" with an 80-inch reach, Bonnar is both the tallest and rangiest fighter that Silva has ever faced. He's arguably the toughest as well, having never been stopped by strikes, knockout or submission.
It's also a three-round main event. That works tremendously in Bonnar's favor, as he doesn't even have to beat Silva to win. He just needs to steal two rounds on the judge's scorecards and snag a split decision.
In short, Bonnar is the perfect fighter in just the right circumstance for an upset.
But regardless of all that, Anderson Silva made the right call.
Dana White will crow about UFC 153 being saved by "old-school" fighters, but the reality is that salvaging this card endears both men to their fans and sponsors and to the sport at large, even if Silva loses a controversial decision—or actually gets finished on some ridiculous stoppage.
Don't forget, Brazil is arguably the hottest property for the UFC and Silva is one of the country's biggest stars.
He'll be paid handsomely for the fight, he's getting the most beatable "big-name" opponent in the light heavyweight division and the narrative of "anyone, anytime, any weight" lives on, adding to Silva's legendary reputation.
Until he beats Chael Sonnen, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will continue to be defined for ducking that fight, letting down fans of the sport and being a selfish diva.
Silva is no Florence Nightingale himself—and arguably a bigger diva than Jones—but this time he deserves his credit.
UFC 153 will either be another chapter in the history of the world's greatest fighter or one of the biggest upsets in combat sports. Anderson Silva made a stupid, risky, cocky choice—but it was still the right decision to make.
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