One of the most cursed events in mixed martial arts history actually looks more accessible to those casual fans who were on the fence about buying the show, as UFC 153 will be headlined by Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight showdown.
Silva stepped up to take the spot vacated by UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who was forced to withdraw from his title fight with Frankie Edgar due to an injury. This will be the third UFC fight for the Spider at 205 pounds.
Bonnar, who is fighting for the first time in 11 months, is basically in a no-lose situation. If he wins, he pulls off the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history. If he loses, everyone expected it and he will at least get a nice paycheck for main eventing against Silva.
Where: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Saturday, Oct. 13
Watch: Main Card airs on pay-per-view starting at 10:00 p.m. ET; FX Preliminary Card starts at 8:00 p.m. ET; Facebook Preliminary Card airs at 6:45 p.m. ET
|Light Heavyweight Bout: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar|
|Heavyweight Bout: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman|
|Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado|
|Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva|
|Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado|
|Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story|
|FX PRELIMINARY CARD|
|Featherweight Bout: Rony Mariano Bezerra vs. Sam Sicilia|
|Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. Francisco Trinaldo|
|Featherweight Bout: Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino|
|Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Renee Forte|
|FACEBOOK PRELIMINARY CARD|
|Middleweight Bout: Luiz Cane vs. Chris Camozzi|
|Lightweight Bout: Cristiano Marcello vs. Reza Madadi|
Silva's Keys to Victory
Speed and power combination
Given what we have seen from Silva in his previous light heavyweight battles, there is nothing he can't do at this weight class that he doesn't do at middleweight. He is still so fast, so strong and so agile that it is hard to lay a hand on him, much less do enough damage to stop him.
As long as Silva hasn't lost a step—it has been over three years since he has fought at 205 pounds—that combination of speed and power will be too much for Bonnar to handle.
Bonnar's Keys to Victory
Get fight to the ground; hold Silva down
Bonnar's greatest, or only, advantage in this fight is size. He has a slightly larger frame than Silva, so he needs to use every bit of it on Saturday night to at least make this a competitive fight.
While he does have tendencies to stand and trade with opponents, Bonnar can't keep this fight standing. He needs to do everything possible to work Silva to the ground, either by taking him down on his own or baiting him into going down.
Even though Bonnar is not nearly the wrestler that Chael Sonnen is, we saw in Silva's second fight with Sonnen how much of an advantage there is to just taking him down and putting all your weight on him. Of course, Silva came back in the second round to knock Sonnen out.
What They Are Saying
Despite being involved in the most important fight in UFC history, vs. Forrest Griffin in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 1, Bonnar believes that this match with Silva is the biggest moment he will ever experience (via ESPN.com).
It’s the defining moment of my whole life. Everything I’ve gone through, all the martial arts training I’ve done, MMA fights, boxing matches, wrestling, grappling -- this is a culmination of it all. It’s all meant to be. It’s perfect. It feels like the stars are aligning just like it did on that magical night for the UFC when I fought Forrest [Griffin].
Undercard Fight to Watch: Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino
I am a sucker for two things: Youth and upside.
Brandao vs. Gambino isn't a fight that is going to light the world on fire, as far as names go, but they are both young fighters—Brandao is 25, Gambino, 23—who are looking to make themselves into legitimate UFC stars.
Brandao has a shaky resume already, with just a 14-8 career record (1-1 in UFC), but he is going to leave everything he has on the table. He is a good striker with decent Muay Thai skills.
Gambino lost for the first time in his career back in June, but boasts a respectable 9-1 record. He is a ground fighter who is going to shoot early and work for submissions.
Main Event Prediction
Silva comes into this fight as one of the biggest favorites in the history of sports, currently at -1200, according to Bovada. Normally I would say you always take those odds, but Bonnar is basically coming out of retirement against the greatest fighter of this generation.
Silva wins via first-round TKO