UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar: An MMA Oddity
This Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 153, the greatest mixed martial artist the sport has ever known will once again step into the Octagon to put his skills on display.
Over the past seven years, Anderson Silva has built a legacy unmatched thus far in the sport's history, and he's accomplished this feat by turning the world's best into highlight reel victims.
We've all seen the front-kick knockout of Vitor Belfort. We have been amazed by his hands-down, Ali-esque laser beaming of Forrest Griffin. We have seen "The Spider" poetically dismantle the opposition sent his way as he has earned his place at the very top of the sport.
This is a man who handles his business inside the cage, and the next task at hand is Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153. Crazy, right? At least, that was my original sentiment when the fight was announced, but that opinion has since changed.
When measuring the madness of this situation, you must keep several key factors in mind: The decision to make the bout came in the wake of Jose Aldo's injury and subsequent withdrawal from his fight with Frankie Edgar.
This turn of events left the UFC without a main event for the upcoming card, and from out of this chaos, one of the strangest matchups in UFC history was born. Silva and Bonnar agreed to fight on short notice and the UFC machine continued onward towards Brazil.
This fight pits two men at distinctly different places on the MMA spectrum willing to throw their best in search of victory. While this scenario is a rare occurrence in the fast-paced world of the UFC, matchups of similar pairing are weaved throughout the history of combat sports.
Whether this fight between Silva and Bonnar have what it takes to shake the foundation remains to be seen, but what is there will be an opportunity for the biggest upset in UFC history and the pound-for-pound king to fight in his home country.
UFC President Dana White recently labeled this bout a "fun fight," and because of the potential chaos lingering in the balance I wholeheartedly agree. Should Bonnar do the unthinkable and defeat Silva, the MMA world gets turned on its ear. This is by no means a conventional matchup to any degree of belief, but the odd nature of the fight is what makes it so appealing.
Due to the increased competitiveness of the divisional pictures, we are conditioned to seeing champions defend their belts in each outing. Nearly every weight class under the UFC banner has a competitive upper tier and this warrants the belt-holder fending off the next emerging contender.
This is simply the way things are done and every system needs order and structure. These are the cogs which keep the machine in motion but every now and again, a circumstance will arise where unconventional methods fit. Silva vs. Bonnar is precisely this situation.
There will be no belt on the line, only varying levels of opportunity. For Bonnar, the upside is tremendous. Minus being violently robbed of his consciousness, he has nothing to lose.
In what will most likely be the final showing of his career, Bonnar will be given the chance to blast himself into the stratosphere of MMA folklore. For a man who is credited as one half of the fight that saved the UFC, and who has never been able to break into elite level status, this is the perfect setting for a swan song.
If he is forever linked with Forrest Griffin and by comparison they are Black Sabbath, this is his Ozzy Osbourne moment. UFC 153 could be his "Crazy Train." At the same time, it could be Ozzy singing the National Anthem at Wrigley Field, but finding out is the exciting part.
Things look different on the Silva side of the fence. He is approaching the end of his career and is looking to finish his run in proper fashion.
Will a victory over Bonnar be a crowning jewel? Absolutely not. But his willingness to fight outside of his weight class and to headline a card at a crucial moment when the organization he has become a legend fighting for needed him most; those become gems in the royal scepter.
In the past examples we have seen where the opposition genuinely shows up to fight him, the best version of Silva emerges, and the opportunity to see a great fighter work his science is always something worth seeing in my humble opinion.
The UFC isn't attempting to sell Bonnar as the man who holds the answer to the Silva puzzle, but you can guarantee he will try like hell to figure it out. Bonnar knows what he is walking into. He has embraced the mystique of the man he is fighting and appears to be strangely excited for it. The guy isn't called "The American Psycho" for nothing.
As for Silva, this fight is about the here and now. His legacy is rock solid. The most dominant champion in UFC history has set records which may never be broken and has publicly voiced his intention to retire undefeated under the organization's banner.
Silva's accomplishments are unparalleled, and the biggest fights of his career could still hang somewhere on the horizon. He is fully aware this is a fight he should win and intends to do exactly that on Saturday night.
Against overwhelming odds in hostile territory, Bonnar will attempt to do what no one in the UFC has done before. That still sounds crazy to me but it's just the right amount of crazy I can get behind.
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