Over the past month or so, I came to the realization that UFC 153 was going to be a pretty good card. I thought the style matchups for most of the fights were going to lead to some interesting battles in the cage, and I figured there would be a bunch of finishes.
Turns out, I was right.
UFC 153 delivered in just about every way possible; if you saw the card, you know what I'm talking about. From the beginning of the preliminary card all the way to the main event, the event was chock-full of excitement and finishes aplenty. There were only two decisions on the entire card; that's a rarity in today's UFC landscape.
There's just something in the air in Brazil, because UFC events down there always deliver.
Let's take a look at what I think should be next for the winners from the UFC 153 pay-per-view card.
Well, would you look at that.
Demian Maia, one of the best grapplers in the world, has fancied himself a striker over the past couple of years, with mixed results. It's not that he was a bad striker, but that portion of his game certainly did not stand up to his bread and butter in the submission game.
Well, Maia seems to have remembered that he's an awesome grappler, and he's getting excellent results.
Maia made quick work of Rick Story, taking him to the canvas early and slowly working to the back before securing a facelock that made Story's head look like it was about to explode. It was a stunning display of grappling, and a clear message that when Maia works to his strength, he's as dangerous as any welterweight in the game.
For his next trick, I'd like to see Maia matched up with the winner of the December bout between Rory MacDonald and B.J. Penn. With MacDonald, I guess it all depends on how the main event of UFC 154 unfolds; if Carlos Condit beats Georges St-Pierre and MacDonald dispatches Penn, then I guess MacDonald would be better off in title contention.
Mostly, I'd really just like to see Maia face Penn, because I think that would be an awesome fight.
UFC 153 was probably Phil Davis' most dominant performance in the UFC.
After the first bout with Wagner Prado ended with a nasty eye poke, Davis reverted back to his wrestling ways and utterly toyed with Prado throughout the fight. Double-legs, trips, ground control—Davis had it all, and he finished it up with a sweet D'Arce choke with a gator roll thrown in for good measure.
I know Ryan Bader is coming off a loss to Lyoto Machida, but I think he's a great fight for Davis at this point. They're both excellent wrestlers, and Bader has enough stand-up skill and power to cause Davis some concern.
I wouldn't mind seeing Davis fight Machida, but he's apparently matched up with Dan Henderson. A bout against Shogun Rua also makes sense, but Rua is paired with Alex Gustafsson later this year.
So with all other top-10 light heavyweights currently spoken for, Bader gets the nod. I'd watch it.
Jon Fitch has been widely (and mostly irrationally) disliked for most of his UFC career. Part of that stems from his style, which has always been based on wrestling and grinding the life out of his opponents. It's never been the most exciting or palatable style, but it's worked for Fitch.
Fitch used the same style, mostly, in beating hyped prospect Erick Silva in Brazil.
I say, mostly because this fight was exciting from beginning to end, it should contend for Fight of the Night honors. Even when employing his grinding style on Silva, Fitch used a lot more striking and submission attempts than we usually see from him.
It was the most exciting Fitch fight in many years.
We shouldn't be all that surprised, though; Fitch said coming in that he was looking for a Fight of the Night bonus. Even if he doesn't get it, he'll no doubt get a hefty bonus check from Dana White after this one.
The next time Fitch steps in the cage, I'd like to see him fight Jake Ellenberger, who beat Jay Hieron in his last outing. Both are roughly at the same level in the division; so, it makes sense from that perspective, and it's a good style fight as well.
First, I must say that this fight probably could have been stopped—and should have been stopped—in both the first and second rounds. But Fabio Maldonado is one tough dude, and he just didn't know when to quit.
Luckily for him—and more importantly his future health—the doctor decided to stop the fight after the second round and awarded the win to Glover Teixeira.
Outside of a few shaky moments at the end of the first round when Maldonado clipped him with a left hook, Teixeira utterly decimated Maldonado. It was actually quite tough to watch at times.
For his next bout, I'd like to see Teixeira face the opponent he was originally scheduled to fight at UFC 153: Rampage Jackson.
Teixeira is a very good fighter with a lot of potential in the light heavyweight division, but he needs to face someone with a big name in order to cement himself in the public eye, and Jackson fits the bill perfectly.
After the fight, Teixeira said he wanted to fight Jackson because "Rampage" had been trash-talking him. He said he'd never talk about about Jackson because Jackson is his idol, but now he wants to step in the cage with him.
It makes perfect sense. Let's do it.
It turns out that jiu-jitsu does work, after all, and it most certainly does work on Dave Herman.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira looked older than ever at UFC 153, but it didn't really matter, as he finished Herman in the second round via armbar. Nogueira said he wanted to win by submission, and he did.
I'd like to pair him with another Brazilian who recently scored a big win: Antonio Silva.
It makes sense from a rankings perspective and it'd be an interesting pairing, especially if they hold off until the next UFC show in Brazil in early 2013. Silva is part of Team Nogueira, so that would be a stumbling block. But I'd still like to see it.
I don't know how much longer Nogueira can do this. He's just 36 years old, but he looks 55 and has scars covering his body from years of accidents and injuries. But man, I still enjoy watching Minotauro step in the cage, no matter how old he looks or who the opponent is.
What else is there to say about Anderson Silva? More importantly, what is left for Silva?
I'm not saying that Stephan Bonnar was the toughest fight of Silva's career; it certainly wasn't the easiest. But Silva made a fight with Bonnar look just as easy as he did as a fight with Forrest Griffin. Both men are tough and durable light heavyweights. Both were made to look like children.
I know they've both gone on the record as saying they have no desire to fight each other. And I know Silva said that he doesn't plan on fighting at light heavyweight again. But really, what else is there besides a superfight for the ages between Silva and Jon Jones?
Money talks. I don't know how much money it'll take to get those two men to step in the cage against each other, but I sure hope they figure it out, and I hope they do it in 2013.