It seems like every single event the UFC has booked this year, the injury bug has been lurking around the corner ready to try and destroy it.
Anderson Silva agreed to step in on short notice and fight at light heavyweight for the third time in his UFC career, and his opponent Stephan Bonnar immediately became the biggest underdog in UFC history.
Despite a mismatch in the main event, fans have slowly warmed up to a UFC 153 card that is loaded with talent from top to bottom, and the UFC’s third trip to Brazil in 2012 is set to be one of the most fun fight cards out the year.
Demain Maia’s win in his welterweight debut over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 148 wasn’t exactly impressive.
In fact, it wasn’t really anything.
Kim suffered an injury just seconds into the bout, and we didn’t exactly see enough of Maia to give us a clear idea of what the grappling specialist will be like at 170 lbs.
What we did see from Maia, though, was a promising shift in style from his last few fights at middleweight.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion had perhaps become a bit too infatuated with his new-found striking skills, and he opted to stand a trade on the feet with his opponents instead of using his lethal submission skills that got him to the top of the sport.
When he fought Kim, Maia went out and looked for the takedown immediately, using his underrated takedown ability to get the fight to the mat in under a minute against a judo specialist.
If Maia is able use his ground game to overwhelm a talented wrestler like Rick Story this weekend in Brazil, he’ll truly become a threat to the rest of a stacked welterweight division.
Since suffering the first loss of his young career to Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2 in January, Phil Davis has had a tough time staying on the radar of fight fans.
A long layoff from January to August was enough to send Davis from main-event status to the Fuel TV prelims, and when he actually stepped inside the cage to try and earn his first win in over a year, the bout ended in a no contest in less than two minutes.
Davis accidentally hit his opponent Wagner Prado with a finger to the eye early on in the bout, and when the fight was called off, he was forced to wait another two months before getting back into the cage for a rematch.
A loss to Prado will all but kill any chance that Davis has at getting close to a UFC title in the near future, and if he is unable to get the job done, he’ll likely be stuck in a gatekeeper role for quite some time.
Despite just a 2-1 record in the UFC, Erick Silva is one of the hottest rising prospects in the entire sport of MMA.
Silva’s one loss inside the Octagon came due to a controversial disqualification for illegal shots to the back of the head in a bout that he was dominating against Carlo Prater, and his other two Octagon bouts have been nothing short of incredible.
As good as Silva has looked thus far, he has never had a true test inside the Octagon, a problem that will be fixed this weekend.
Jon Fitch is a legitimate top-tier welterweight, and he’s been one of the most successful fighters in the history of the promotions welterweight division.
A win for Silva over a tough veteran like Fitch will make him an instant contender at 170 lbs, and if the hype behind him is warranted we could be looking at a future welterweight champion come into his own on Saturday night.
These two may be amongst the least well-known names on the card, but rest assured that the two Brazilians will give the fans a slugfest to remember this weekend.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Glover Teixeira, and the UFC seemed determined to match him up with a high-profile opponent in just his second fight for the organization.
Teixeira was set to fight Rampage Jackson on this card at one point, and huge proposed fights against Shogun Rua and Rashad Evans ended up on the backburner, so he’s been thrown into a tough battle with another tough and little known Brazilian in Maldonado.
With Teixeira’s power and the underrated boxing skills possessed by Maldonado, this fight has the potential to be one of the most exciting fights in 2012, and we’ll see just how good Glover Teixeira really is.
When featherweight champion Jose Aldo and fan favorite Rampage Jackson were both forced to pull out of their respective fights on the same day, the UFC was left with a fight card that had little star power.
When the main event between Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar was announced, most of the credit for saving the card was given to the UFC middleweight champion for stepping up on short notice to save the day.
While Silva is definitely the star attraction, for the live Brazilian crowd there may not have been a more beloved fighter than Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria to step in and give the event a legitimate co-main event.
The Pride legend offered to fight on the card the second he found out there was a spot available, and his bout against Dave Herman gives fans a chance to see a vintage “Minotauro” performance
Stephan Bonnar is one of the biggest underdogs in the history of MMA for a reason.
We all know just how good Anderson Silva is, and after watching him destroy every opponent put in front of him over the last six years, there’s little reason for anyone to believe that Bonnar has a legitimate shot at defeating the UFC middleweight champion.
Fans have every reason to write Bonnar off as nothing more than a future addition to “The Spider’s” highlight reel, and most will do just that before the main event comes around on Saturday.
However, this is MMA and we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility of Bonnar pulling off a Matt Serra style upset.
A win for Bonnar would make for one of the most unbelievable moments in MMA history, but “The American Psycho” has nothing to lose in this fight and has a chance at becoming a part of MMA history this weekend.