It’s been quite an emotional rollercoaster for UFC fans in the last week or so.

First, we were dealt the disappointing blow that UFC featherweight contender Erik Koch would have to withdraw from his scheduled UFC 153 title fight with champion Jose Aldo. Shortly thereafter, we were brought to new highs when the UFC announced Koch would be replaced by former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Those highs came crashing back down on Tuesday, when it was announced that both Aldo and co-main-event fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson were both pulling out of their UFC 153 bouts, only to be raised once more when a revised Oct. 13 Rio card was released.

This new card retains the other half of the original co-main event (Glover Teixeira), but replaces Jackson with Teixeira’s countryman Fabio Maldonado. It also includes a bonus pay-per-view heavyweight fight between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Dave Herman. The biggest and most surprising announcement, however, was the main event. Now headlining the UFC 153 main card will be UFC middleweight champion and pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva moving up to light heavyweight to square off with Stephan Bonnar.

These changes, while certainly exciting, raise the following question: Is UFC 153 better off with Silva/Bonnar, Teixeira/Maldonado and Nogueira/Herman than it was with Aldo/Edgar and Jackson/Teixeira? The MMA Corner writers Bryan Henderson and Eric Reinert take sides in this installment of Opposing Forces.

“Silva” Lining: Why the New UFC 153 is Better – Eric Reinert

Some of the UFC’s pay-per-view events are meant to showcase important fights that have major implications for the promotion. These events generally contain a championship fight as well as a No. 1 contender match-up and/or title eliminator. Cards like this tend to appeal more to hardcore fans, but can also capture casual viewers, mainly due to the level of talent on display. UFC 152, with its two title fights and Brian Stann vs. Michael Bisping eliminator—is a terrific example of this type of card.

Then, there are the fun cards. Cards like these, while fewer and farther between, are highlighted by a grudge match, a fight between two of the UFC’s more popular non-title-contenders or a match-up that makes fans say, “Huh … that’s pretty cool.” The best recent example of this sort of card is probably the UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle show from Aug. 2011. Neither Hardy nor Lytle had a ton to gain or lose in their fight, but everyone knew it would be an absolute slugfest.

In UFC 153, we’re seeing the first type of card combine with the second type right before our eyes. Before, we had a featherweight title fight, and a damn good one, carrying the card. Two of the sport’s pound-for-pound best would face off in the most important of fights. Aside from that, Rampage/Teixeira was fun, but didn’t really carry a lot of meaning for Jackson.

Now, we’re being treated to the best fighter of all time returning to the cage well before anyone expected him to. His opponent isn’t really important, because he’s now without a doubt the main draw on the card. (That his opponent is a fighter known for putting on entertaining contests certainly speaks to the explosive potential of this fight, but that’s the cherry on top.)

Putting this in musical terms, this is the approximate equivalent to a promoter saying, “Well, the double-bill of The Black Keys and Foo Fighters had to be cancelled, but instead we’re giving you The Rolling Stones.”

In addition, the Maldonado/Teixeira match-up actually does have title-picture implications, thus increasing the importance of a victory for Teixeira. Maldonado will certainly be motivated, as his opponent has been touted as a dangerous recent addition to the light heavyweight division. Nogueira/Herman is definitely in the “fun” category, but then there is the fight between Erick Silva and Jon Fitch, in which each combatant will attempt to break into championship contention. In UFC 153, we get the best of both worlds.

The other element to consider with regard to the UFC 153 card is its location. Anderson Silva stepping in on short-ish notice is a big enough deal in any country, but because UFC 153 is being held in Brazil, where Silva has basically been deified, his presence will turn up the excitement several dozen notches in HSBC Arena.

Is Silva/Bonnar more important than Aldo/Edgar? Not even close. But given the circumstances, Anderson Silva’s sudden appearance atop the UFC 153 card, in combination with the Maldonado/Teixeira fight and the other fights, both fun and important, on the main card and particularly because this event will take place in Rio, make it an overall better card than it was on Monday.

Raining on the Parade: Why the New UFC 153 is Not Better – Bryan Henderson

Sure, the UFC did a sufficient job of taking what could have turned into another cataclysmic disaster on par with UFC 151’s recent cancellation and salvaging it through the addition of Anderson Silva, a new co-main event and the Nogueira/Herman affair. But, better than it was on Monday? I think not.

On Monday, fans were still looking forward to a title showdown between Aldo and Edgar. Aldo provided the drawing power for a card based in Brazil, and Edgar represented an intriguing opponent that would actually have fans pondering the real possibility of the title changing hands. This was a compelling pairing and one that everyone was taking seriously.

Now, in its place, is a contest that pits the UFC middleweight champion against a TUF legend. Silva might energize the crowd and Bonnar’s go-for-broke approach might even turn this into an exciting fight, but the common attitude flowing through the MMA community at the moment is one of disbelief. “Is this a joke?” was what many fans and pundits were initially asking.

Taking a step back for a minute, it isn’t quite as bad of a match-up as it initially seems—Bonnar has never been stopped in his career, and in the world of MMA, unpredictability in any given match-up is a given. He’ll move forward, and for however long it lasts, it’ll be an entertaining scrap. However, what does Silva have to gain from this fight? The champ—and really the UFC, for that matter—have a lot to lose if Bonnar does the impossible and wins. Suddenly, the greatest of all time could be the laughing stock of MMA, and the UFC’s middleweight champion would seem a little less deserving of the crown.

Sure, it’s a fun fight, but when fans don’t take it seriously and two of the primary players in this have so much at stake, does it truly make UFC 153 better?

And on Monday, Glover Teixeira had the fight lined up that he needed in order to reach the next rung on the light heavyweight ladder. The match-up might not have held importance for Rampage’s career, but it sure held significance for Teixeira’s. This is a man who waited a long time to finally step into the Octagon. Yet, despite convincingly winning his UFC debut, he was then deemed as not a significant enough name in being turned down by Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for a potential fight.

Although the replacement of Rampage with Maldonado might have been the best move of all by the UFC in saving this card, it causes fans—and Teixeira—to lose in the long run. A win over Rampage would have legitimized Teixeira in the eyes of the more casual fans of the sport. A bout with Rua or another top-tier light heavyweight that had previously been out of grasp would likely have been within reach, and a potential run at the belt would have been underway. Now, instead, Teixeira will have to defeat Maldonado and then await another opportunity to come along against Rua or another 205er whose name resonates with fans.

What the UFC subtracted was an intriguing title fight and a contest that could have cemented a new light heavyweight star. In their place, the promotion has added a mismatched affair between a middleweight champion and a light heavyweight nearing retirement and a bout that, to the casual fan, will not do much to elevate the winner to a fight in the upper echelon of the UFC’s 205-pound division. Sure, there’s also the bonus of the Nogueira/Herman affair, but when I do the math, UFC 153—though still a fun card—is worse off than it was on Monday.

Who do you agree with? Is UFC 153 better now than it was on Monday? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

Photo: Stephan Bonnar (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.