Silva win the right outcome for MMA
In the least surprising outcome ever, Anderson Silva toyed with Stephan Bonnar until he'd had enough of batting the yarn around. And thank goodness that's the way it went down. I don't have a rooting interest, but it occurred to me while watching Zuffa's pay-per-view commercials for UFC 153 that if the marketed miracle actually happened, it would have been horrible for mixed martial arts and the UFC.
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Bonnar beating Silva would have been a stunning, shocking, unbelievable outcome. Moreover, it would have cemented MMA as a sport in which anything can happen at any time, and that's bad news. The greatest of all time does not lose to a markedly inferior opponent. That's not how things are supposed to happen. The greatest of all time exposes mediocrity for what it is and dances on its head.
We need the Dream Team to lay the wood on Angola, 116-48. We need Division I football powerhouses covering 50-point spreads. And we need Anderson Silva making mincemeat of Stephan Bonnar. All is right with the world when events play out this way, as was the case Saturday in Rio.
As for the rest of UFC 153, a quality card in Rio, contenders emerged and prospects were knocked down a peg. An exciting evening overall, lending itself to fighter grades ranging from A+ to F.
UFC 153 grades
What's there to say about Anderson Silva that hasn't already been said? Beating Stephan Bonnar the way he did was perfect. Silva (33-4) let Bonnar tee off, keeping his hands low and his chin high. And even then it didn't come across like he was tempting fate. Silva, 37, was only having fun, putting on a show, biding his time until a finish suited him. That's how incredibly gifted he is. I said it the night of the fight and I'll say it now: Enjoy him while he's around. He's a special fighter, an all-time great whether or not he makes good on his promise to fight another five years.
Demian Maia (17-4) was the best fighter on the card. He's a perfect fit at welterweight, where the jiu-jitsu maven has returned to his roots and has been dominant as a result. His ability to manhandle Rick Story says so much about Maia's chances for success at 170. With an improved striking game to go along with a potent grappling attack (to put it mildly), I really believe Maia can emerge as a top contender, and even win a championship at this weight. The 34-year-old Brazilian has looked that good since shedding 15 pounds.
Phil Davis, 28, wrestled his way past Wagner Prado, offering a smart and effective plan against a smaller light heavyweight who can't grapple. The fight was one-sided to the point of being boring, though the anaconda finish in Round 2 was a nice way to end things. Davis (10-1) didn't show much in the striking department because he didn't have to. It won't always be so simple for him. I'm going to go out on a limb and say his next fight will require more effort.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7) did it again, finishing by submission for the 21st time of his illustrious career. He's a legend, one of the best heavyweights of his generation, and Nogueira, 36, made it clear he doesn't intend to retire anytime soon. I don't doubt he can beat the Dave Hermans of the world for as long as he chooses to step in a cage, but what about when he bumps up the caliber of competition? We'll surely find out.
There's plenty to like about Glover Teixeira, but some context is needed when discussing the 32-year-old Brazilian. He's aggressive and mean in the cage, traits that make him someone worth watching. But how much do we know about him, really? His two opponents in the Octagon are a combined 5-7 in the UFC. Teixeira may have all the tools to be a top-shelf light heavyweight, and it sounds like we'll soon know for sure. But have I seen anything that leads me to believe he's the guy to knock off Jon Jones, or emerge as Jones' pre-eminent threat over the next few years? No.
Jon Fitch, 34, brought it against Erick Silva, delivering a fight of the night performance and, more importantly, an immensely important victory that keeps him in the top 10 and relevant heading to 2013. As the fight progressed, Fitch (24-4-1) seemed to gain momentum, culminating in a stellar third round in which he treated Silva like a little brother. Fitch remains a threat at 170, where he resides in my top five.
Gleison Tibau's immense strength, particularly in the takedown department, paid off against an equally large lightweight in Francisco Trinaldo. The 29-year-old UFC veteran pushed through in the final round to score a unanimous decision win, rebounding nicely after losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in July. Tibau (26-8) is a beast at 155 and is one of those guys no rising contender wants to cross paths with.
He's too tough for his own good. Fabio Maldonado, 32, was battered during his 10 minutes spent with Glover Teixeira. Lesser men would have been put away, but Maldonado hung around, taking elbow after elbow, punch after punch, until a ringside physician had no choice but to call the contest. Maldonado (18-6) won't be released from the UFC, but three straight losses put him in a precarious position.
The Brazilian wasn't ready for his test. Erick Silva, 28, put on a valiant effort against Jon Fitch; however, he fell prey to experience and a foe who won't tap to chokes. The spin from UFC president Dana White was this result is akin to Georges St. Pierre losing to Matt Hughes the first time. That's a stretch, but at the same time, Silva's continued improvement and eventual climb up the welterweight rankings doesn't come off as entirely unlikely.
Stephan Bonnar, 35, took a chance and it turned up craps. There's nothing wrong with trying, even in the face of insurmountable odds and a potential butt-kicking. He deserves credit for stepping in against Anderson Silva on short notice, but the gap between talent, skill and pedigree was embarrassingly wide. If you thought Bonnar (15-8) had a legitimate chance of winning, umm, I don't know what to tell you. The American had already contemplated retirement. There's nothing left for him in MMA outside of a couple of paydays, and the joys that come with being a professional fighter. More power to him, whatever he chooses to do.
There's not much to say about 28-year-old Dave Herman (21-5), who was armbarred by "Minotauro" in the second round (his third straight loss before the bell). He's patently mediocre and seems incapable (or unwilling) of improving himself. Jiu-jitsu doesn't work, eh? No, standing erect, chin exposed, doesn't work. Athleticism is never enough. I won't write Herman off yet, even if I really want to. There's time, but it's dwindling.
Rick Story (14-6) didn't have an answer for Maia, which based on the American's previous efforts at 170 has to be considered surprising. The first-round loss to a face crank that forced blood and snot to ooze from his nose (in other words, disgusting) makes three defeats in four fights, a significant setback in this competitive division. Story, 28, was on his heels from the opening bell and once Maia secured top position, which didn't take long, the finish came brutally and suddenly. It feels like forever since his six-fight win streak, which included Johny Hendricks' lone blemish. Story needs a reversal of fortune, and quick.
Preventing Phil Davis from finishing takedowns is difficult enough if you know what you're doing. If not, forget it. Wagner Prado didn't have a clue how to stop himself from being tossed to his back, and because of it he lost due to a sinister anaconda choke in the second round. The Brazilian, 24, is energetic and likable. He hits hard, too, based on performances outside the UFC. But he's not a suitable light heavyweight, especially without a semblance of takedown defense. Prado (8-1 with one no contest) should consider moving to middleweight, and doing nothing but wrestling for the next few months.
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