From an event that faced cancellation after injuries to José Aldo and Quinton Jackson, UFC 153 became a very solid fight card that produced a number of memorable moments. Although many of the main card bouts were perceived as mismatches, there was still plenty to be excited about during Saturday's event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Anderson Silva, the UFC's middleweight champion, moved to the 205-pound division to help save the event. That decision did not backfire, as Silva easily disposed of a normally unstoppable Stephan Bonnar with a precision knee in the opening round.
In addition to Silva's impressive finish of Bonnar, there were plenty of instances during UFC 153 where fighters had fans on their feet. These are the event's most memorable moments.
After losing as a replacement in the middleweight finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Sergio Moraes' spot on the UFC roster was likely on the line in a bout with Renee Forte, who was also fighting inside the Octagon for the first time outside of the The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil competition.
Moraes got off to a slow start at UFC 153 but was able to pick up his first UFC win by taking Forte to the ground. The former jiu-jitsu world champion locked up a rear naked choke and forced Forte to tap.
With the win, the respected Brazilian will get a least a couple more chances to show improvement in his striking while continuing to put his world-class grappling on display.
Diego Brandao suffered a setback against Darren Elkins in his first appearance after winning The Ultimate Fighter. In that bout, Brandao started strong before fading in the later rounds.
Clearly learning from that experience, Brandao paced himself against Joey Gambino at UFC 153. For three rounds, Brandao out-struck Gambino en route to his first UFC win outside of The Ultimate Fighter competition.
The 25-year-old has a very bright future in MMA if he can continue learning from mistakes like he did following his first UFC loss.
Like Diego Brandao, The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil winner Rony Jason picked up his first non-The Ultimate Fighter victory inside the Octagon at UFC 153.
In a bout against a fellow The Ultimate Fighter participant, Jason utilized superior technique to land before Sam Sicilia's looping punches could.
Late in the second round, Jason dropped Sicilia and finished the fight, which should earn him a step up in competition and a bout against a more seasoned opponent.
At 170 pounds, Demian Maia is beginning to look like a serious title threat.
The Brazilian looked good in his welterweight debut, winning due to injury after taking Dong Hyun Kim to the ground with relative ease, but his performance at UFC 153 was much more telling.
Maia scored an early takedown against a solid wrestler in Rick Story. Then, the former middleweight proceeded to lock up a rear naked choke that pushed him closer to the top 10 of the welterweight division after only two appearances in the weight class.
The first meeting between Phil Davis and Wagner Prado ended in an ugly eye poke that left the Brazilian unable to continue.
At UFC 153, Davis made sure striking didn't play a factor in the outcome of his rematch with Prado by scoring multiple takedowns. The former NCAA champion wrestler was far superior to Prado on the ground, and it resulted in a second round submission win for the developing wrestler.
Despite his recent loss to Rashad Evans, Davis remains a player in the light heavyweight title picture. At 28 years old, it would not be surprising to see Davis bounce back and earn a title shot in the near future.
Jon Fitch has long been criticized for his methodical fighting style. However, at UFC 153, Fitch took many more risks than fans are accustomed to seeing from him, and those risks helped the American Kickboxing Academy product to a dominant decision win over extremely bright Brazilian prospect Erick Silva.
The win put Fitch back on a winning track after going winless in his previous two appearances against B.J. Penn and Johny Hendricks. Now, the long-time 170-pound contender will be rooting for Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann to win their upcoming fights against Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks, which would put fresh faces between him and a run at the title.
For Silva, the loss to Fitch was his first inside the Octagon. Time will tell whether this loss motivates or discourages the still-dangerous prospect.
Fabio Maldonado is one tough Brazilian, but that wasn't enough for him to avoid defeat against the scary Glover Teixeira at UFC 153. Maldonado withstood a mountain of punishment that the ringside doctor eventually decided was enough following the second round.
Teixeira is clearly beyond low-level UFC light heavyweights and could be matched with a 205-pound contender in his next appearance. That could mean a bout with Quinton Jackson, who Teixeira was originally booked to meet on Saturday.
Many wondered whether Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira would ponder retirement after suffering a horrific arm injury against Frank Mir in December 2011. However, despite near a year-long recovery, Nogueira returned to the Octagon at UFC 153 and picked up an important win.
Competing against an opponent in Dave Herman who is quoted as saying jiu-jitsu doesn't work, Nogueira locked up an armbar and forced Herman to eat his words.
The win was Nogueira's second in his home country of Brazil. The Brazilian also knocked out Brendan Schaub in his native land in August 2011.
While most everyone agreed Stephan Bonnar was in for a beating against Anderson Silva, there were many who believed "The American Psycho" would prove tough to finish, as he had only previously been stopped due to cuts in the past.
However, in another display of how truly great a fighter he is, Silva forced Bonnar to curl up after landing a devastating knee to the body. Silva pounced and finished Bonnar with a few unanswered punches.
Now, Silva will wait to find out if a superfight with another UFC champion will come to pass or if he will have to return to the middleweight division in his next fight to defend his 185-pound title.
MMA legends Anderson Silva and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira are both closer to 40 years old than they are to 30 years old. Nonetheless, the Brazilian teammates fought more like they were 20 years old at UFC 153. They embraced with the enthusiasm of much younger fighters following their victories in the main and co-main events of the fight card.
After Nogueira's submission win over Herman, cameras focused on Silva in the locker room. Though he was moments from walking to the cage, Silva was in tears with happiness over his friend's victory.
The fights at UFC 153 were excellent, but there wasn't a moment more enjoyable than seeing two of the sport's greats acting and performing like they were still in their prime.