UFC 153: RESULTS AND REVIEW
Stephan Bonnar would have been the talk of the MMA world had he managed to upset Anderson Silva in the headline bout of UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He took the fight on late notice after the card fell apart through injuries and, in the words of UFC president Dana White, was on the verge of being a genuine “MMA Rocky story”.
But of course it didn’t turn out like that. Bonnar, a prominent figure in the UFC for past exploits rather than upper-tier standing, didn’t really offer Silva any problems and the middleweight champion – fighting a 205lbs for this superfight – sailed through him with ease. Silva’s hard, accurate striking was too much for Bonnar, as it has been for so many of his past opponents.
Silva is a UFC record setter – consecutive wins, consecutive title defences – and by finishing Bonnar in the first round he also became the first fighter to do so during Bonnar’s professional MMA career. Even Jon Jones, the light-heavyweight champion, didn’t manage to stop Bonnar when he mauled him two years ago.
And so while the fight was meaningless in ranking or title terms, it nevertheless underlines Silva’s position as the top talent on the UFC roster today and one of the all-time best in the sport’s history.
Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman
“Jiu Jitsu doesn’t work,” Dave Herman said before the fight with BJJ master Rodrigo Nogueira. And so it was obvious that the gods were going to visit a career-first submission loss on Herman, who had foolishly tempted fate with those words.
The first round was a scrap, which Nogueira won, but it was early in the second that Herman got his come-uppance. Nogueira sparked him with a left hand that knocked him flying and put him on his back. Nogueira took mount and as Herman tried to escape, took his back. From there he rolled into an armbar that was super-tight with the added weight of galling irony.
No heroics from Herman; his arm was going to break and so he tapped. He suffered the first submission loss of his career and while it goes on his record as an armbar it should really be listed as a choke – on a huge slice of humble pie.
Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado
I’ve watched so many fights now that its rare for me to get that jump-out-of-my-seat buzz that I experienced so much when I first got into the sport. But some things stir even the most jaded heart and so it was that when Fabio Maldonado regained his feet near the end of the first round of his fight with Glover Teixeira, I was on my feet screaming incoherent obscenities of support at the oblivious television.
Prior to his regaining perpendicularity, Maldonado had endured one of the most torrid periods of abuse that anyone in the UFC has ever had to suffer. Supine and mounted by an enormous Teixeira he took a sustained hammering of such intensity that when Teixeira broke off from battering him and attempted to strangle him, that period of being choked was like ten summer holidays in Florida condensed into half a blissful minute for Maldonado.
Ironically it was Maldonado’s escape attempt from the choke that drew Teixeira back into mount and recommenced the nightmare. Such was Texeira’s comfort in this position that at one point he stopped the pick his nose and clear his breathing while he thought up new ways to trick Maldonado into moving his arms out of the way so that he could be struck mightily.
Over-confidence led to over-balance though and Maldonado escaped to his feet. Raptures of joy from the crowd, ascending moments later into a white-noise roar of ecstasy as Maldonado not only threw himself back into the fray but actually landed a big left hand that staggered Texeira. Had Maldonado not been so battered he could perhaps have summoned the strength and nerve to follow it up and maybe score the finish of a lifetime.
Instead he had to content himself with making it to the end of the round and into the second frame – which went much like the first, although Maldonado was able to stay on his feet for much longer periods. Not only that, he was able to land convincing shots including a left to the body that Teixeira definitely felt. But they were mere flashes compared to the wide-beam laser of pain that Teixeira was putting on him, which included hard right hands that started to seal Maldonado’s left eye shut.
The doctor came in and took a look at the eye halfway into the second round but Maldonado was able to convince him he could see just fine. And so the fight went on another two minutes, during which Maldonado took more punishment on the same spot. And so in the interval before the third round, the doctor returned and this time he would not be gainsaid. The fight was waved off.
Teixeira was probably more than a little relieved. In his post-fight speech he said, “He is not human. He is not human.” He also confessed to having been badly rocked by the left hook at the end of the first round while he was busy showboating. Things could have been very different and so he promised “I will never do that again.”
Maldonado now goes 0-3 in his last three and 1-3 in the UFC, with only a win over James McSweeney to his name. I would suggest a play-off fight with Kyle Kingsbury to determine just which of them is the most ridiculously ‘never say die, Terminator mode’ of the pair but unfortunately Maldonado has a (undeserved) decision loss to Kingsbury already so he is probably going to be canned.
Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva
Jon Fitch is fed up of being called boring and he is fed up of seeing other welterweights leapfrog him in the title stakes. That translated into a fight that was basically a fifteen-minute wrestling scramble against Erick Silva who, with his loose and somewhat flamboyant style, is almost the polar opposite of Fitch as a fighter.
There were periods of intense and exhausting pace as Fitch ragged Silva to and around the mat before hunting for submission finishes. The second round was harder for Fitch as Silva had his back for a good while but he still ended up escaping and looking for leglocks. The third was Fitch again, his famous wrestling top control in full effect but this time in dynamic fashion and with a sense of urgency.
Fitch won the fight by unanimous decision so yet again the finish eluded him. But I enjoyed the fight and if Fitch continues to perform this way I think he will win more fans over. A wrestler of Fitch’s ability is always going to shut down his opponent’s striking game when he can but that’s the sport – if Silva wants to stay at range and kickbox he has to figure out how to avoid the clinch. Great performance from Fitch; interesting to see what it does for him.
Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
UFC 153 turned out to be something of an exercise in repentance for two members of the UFC on FOX 2 event which took place in January. The main card opened with Demian Maia taking the fight to the floor and overwhelming Rick Story, the polar opposite of his point-spar with Chris Weidman at the start of the year.
And then Phil Davis stepped up and dominated the ridiculously game Wagner Prado in fine fashion, a stark contrast to the awful performance he had against Rashad Evans in the headline bout of the second UFC on FOX event.
Davis and Prado had fought before, at the UFC on FOX 4 event in August. But the fight ended in a no-contest when Prado suffered a bad eye poke because Davis has a habit of gauging distance with outstretched fingers. This time, wrestling was the order of the day and Davis wasted no time in getting Prado down and onto his back.
The first round was a grinder but it tired Prado and set the tone for round two. When Davis got Prado down in the second round he didn’t go the ground n pound route, which he had a stab at in round one, but instead went submission hunting. Prado’s tendency to lift his arm when blocking allowed for a simple arm-triangle setup and Davis took it. He was quick to pass guard then, jumping to one side and looking to finish the sub.
Prado rolled to his knees and got out of that one, only to be snapped down to all fours again. Davis locked up an anaconda choke and rolled it lightning-fast. Next thing Prado knew it was all going black and he tapped frantically to give Davis his first win of 2012 and one of his most accomplished career performances. It also marks the first loss of Prado’s professional career and adds to a terrible 2012 for him.
Demian Maia vs. Rick Story
At one point Demian Maia strayed from the path. He followed the well-worn but erroneous route that many grapplers before him had taken, enjoying some success in the UFC then eschewing their core skills and attempting to become a stand-up fighter. Usually this led to displays of bad kickboxing and mixed results.
Maia’s nadir came when he fought Chris Weidman in January of this year, going three rounds without attempting to take the fight anywhere near the floor. The result was a decision loss and one of the most boring fights he has ever had. Striking is widely considered the antithesis to ‘boring’ grappling – but only if its done right.
Someone has gotten Maia to listen, it seems. Against Rick Story, a powerful wrestler himself, Maia was hunting the takedown from the off. Diving in to a bad double, he rescued it and came up with a single. Story hopped his way to the fence but Maia popped his hips in for a big lift and slam. Once Story was on the floor Maia was glued to him and he flowed over him inch by inch.
Story looked like a man drowning in treacle as Maia’s deceptively strong hooks and grips got locked in. Once he passed to mount and used that to set up a back-take, it was only a matter of time. The hand-fight went on for a while as Story followed Wu-Tang 101 and protected his neck, but Maia is a man with many options.
Denied the RNC, he switched to a short choke/neck crank and such was the pressure that Story’s nose actually popped and started bleeding (I don’t recall seeing this before). Story was quick to tap and an ecstatic Maia goes 3-1 in his last four. Maia also demonstrated the strength of top-level BJJ in its homeland. Thank god he did, because the irony of him losing a decision via mediocre kickboxing in Rio would have been excruciating.
When he first entered the UFC, Maia was touted as a strong contender for the middleweight title. He flowed through his opposition on the way to that infamous fail of a fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 112, which seriously tarnished the reputation of both men. But now Maia looks dangerous again, and he could be back on the path to contention in his new division of welterweight pretty soon.
Anderson Silva defeated Stephan Bonnar by TKO (1st Round, 4:40)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira submits Dave Herman by Submission (Armbar, 2nd Round, 4:31)
Glover Teixeira defeated Fabio Maldonado by TKO (Doctor Stoppage, 2nd Round, 5:00)
Jon Fitch defeated Erick Silva by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Phil Davis defeated Wagner Prado by Submission (Anaconda Choke, 2nd Round, 4:29)
Demian Maia defeated Rick Story by Submission (RNC, 1st Round, 2:30)
Rony Jason defeated. Sam Sicilia by TKO (Round 2, 4:16)
Gleison Tibau defeated Francisco Trinaldo by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Joey Gambino defeated Diego Brandao by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Sergio Moraes defeated Renee Forte by Submission (RNC, Round 3, 3:10)
Chris Camozzi defeated Luiz Cane by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Cristiano Marcello defeated Reza Madadi by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)