The UFC returned to Rio de Janeiro for third time since August of last year to host UFC 153 from the HSBC Arena. The night’s main event featured middleweight champion Anderson Silva moving up in weight to take The Ultimate Fighter veteran Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight affair.
In addition the main event, the card featured a number of top Brazilian fighters including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira taking on Dave Herman, Erick Silva battling Jon Fitch and Demian Maia facing Rick Story.
The six-fight main card aired on pay-per-view, while the undercard was split between a four-fight FX broadcast and a two-fight Facebook/YouTube stream.
There’s a reason that Anderson Silva is largely considered the greatest MMA fighter of all time and the Brazilian proved it once again against Stephan Bonnar.
In his third trip to the light heavyweight division, Silva largely toyed with his larger opponent for the majority of the opening round. Bonnar charged forward and closed the distance right away, desperate for a takedown. Silva defended and kept the fight standing, landing shoulder strikes and knees from the clinch. Even after Bonnar separated, Silva remained with his back against the cage and essentially baited Bonnar back inside. As the fight progressed, it became clear the Silva could do anything he wanted, but he just waited for the right moment.
The moment came when he delivered a huge knee square to the solar plexus of Bonnar, who immediately crumbled in pain. Silva smelled blood and pounded Bonnar until the referee halted the bout. The TKO was the first time that Bonnar has been stopped in the UFC by strikes or submission.
Silva’s post-fight speech indicated that the 185-pound champion is done with the heavier weight class, despite his 3-0 record in the division. The Brazilian explained that he did it to save the event and put on a show, but that middleweight is his home.
Someone might want to tell heavyweight Dave Herman that claiming Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu doesn’t work on him as he’s facing one of the most decorated submission fighters in the sport’s history is a bad idea.
Former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira returned from a broken arm that he suffered last December to take home Herman’s arm in the second round.
The opening round saw Herman use his length and wrestling to counter Nogueira’s takedown attempts, but the American repeatedly kept his chin exposed and the Brazilian peppered him with strikes.
In the second stanza, it was more of the same, but Nogueira was able to drop Herman with a big left hand. He followed Herman to the mat and quickly moved to the mount. Nogueira looked for an armbar, but Herman escaped and returned to the feet. Nogueira wasn’t discouraged, as he scored with a trip, moved to mount again, and secured yet another armbar, this time forcing Herman to submit.
An elated Nogueira was quick to thank his doctors for his recovery from the broken arm. It took 16 screws and 10 months of rehab, but the legend is back to his winning ways.
If there was any doubt as to why no one in the 205-pound division wanted to face Glover Teixeira, the Brazilian made it clear with one of the most lopsided performances in recent history. But at the same time, his opponent Fabio Maldonado showcased some of the most heart ever displayed inside the Octagon.
Teixeira connected with back-to-back left hooks in the opening seconds of the fight, sending Maldonado to the ground. Once there, Teixeira moved to the mount and rained elbows and punches that quickly opened up cuts on Maldonado’s face. After softening his opponent up with more strikes, Teixeira looked for his favorite submission, the arm-triangle. Somehow, Maldonado escaped and even managed to get back to his feet in the final seconds of the round. As Teixeira dropped his hands, a clearly wobbled and battered Maldonado connected with a left hook that rocked Teixeira momentarily.
In the second round, Teixeira continued his dominance. He took Maldonado to the ground and again gained the mount. He attacked with elbows and punches once more, but Maldonado inexplicably survived. Maldonado got back to his feet and the doctor’s were called in to look at his face. They allowed the fight to continue, but after more punishment from Teixeira, the fight was stopped following the round.
After the win, Teixeira declared that he’d like to face Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the man he was orginally supposed to face at the event.
Jon Fitch reminded the welterweight division why he’s was at the top of the contender’s list for so long with a dominant performance against rising Brazilian contender Erick Silva.
Fitch used his wrestling background to keep Silva from mounting any offense in the opening round. He quickly closed the distance and slammed Silva to the mat along the cage. Silva worked hard to get back up, but Fitch smothered him in a vintage round for the American.
The second round was the most competitive and exciting of the fight, as Silva managed to take Fitch’s back and threaten with a deep rear-naked choke. However, Fitch calmly defended and spun into Silva’s guard. As the two scramble for the feet, Fitch attempted an armbar, but Silva was able to escape as the round closed.
In the final frame, Fitch poured it on. The heavy grappling in the first two frames clearly took its toll on Silva as Fitch overwhelmed the young Brazilian. Fitch pounded away along the fence and the mount. The fight was very close to being stopped on multiple occasions, but Silva would survive to the final bell.
The scorecards all rewarded Fitch for his efforts, earning him his first Octagon win since August of 2010.
The first meeting between Phil Davis and Wagner Prado ended with an unfortunate foul, but Davis made sure that the second meeting would end in his favor.
Davis’ NCAA wrestling experience came into play from the very start against the explosive Brazilian. After a brief feeling out process, Davis took Prado to the ground and used his top control to keep him there throughout the opening frame. Prado was repeatedly warned for holding the fence, but the referee did not take a point.
It was more of the same in the second round, but Davis was much more aggressive. Scoring with ground and pound, Davis forced Prado to yield an arm-triangle attempt. However, the young Brazilian was able to escape, only to fall into a slick anaconda choke from Davis. The choke forced Prado to tap, and gave Davis his first win since March of 2011.
It’s now safe to say that Demian Maia has a permanent home at 170 pounds after running through Rick Story in the first bout of the pay-per-view main card.
In his second bout at welterweight, the multiple time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion quickly attacked Story and forced the fight along the cage. Once there, Maia quickly put Story on the ground and effortlessly took his back. Maia worked hard for a rear-naked choke, but eventually transitioned to a neck crank and Story was forced to tap for the first time in his career.
With the win, Maia made a huge statement that he’s a force to be reckoned with in his new division.
Ultimate Fighter Brazil featherweight winner Rony “Jason” Bezerra picked up his eighth consecutive victory by dispatching of fellow TUF alum Sam Sicilia. The pair traded big shots through the opening round and into the second frame. Midway through the second “Jason” caught a kick from Sicilia and dumped him onto the mat, following with a barrage of hammerfists that forced the referee to intervene.
In his 17th UFC appearance, veteran Gleison Tibau outlasted his fellow Brazilian Francisco Trinaldo to take home a decision win. Tibau controlled the first and third rounds of the bout with his takedowns and top control, but Trinaldo nearly ended the fight in the middle stanza with a big left hand and choke attempts.
Ultimate Fighter 14 winner Diego Brandao bounced back from his first Octagon defeat to dominate fellow featherweight Joey Gambino. Despite Gambino’s wrestling background, it was the Brazilian that scored with takedowns to compliment his heavy shots on the feet. Brandao earned a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards.
Two combatants from The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Sergio Moraes and Renee Forte, returned to their natural weight class of welterweight and sought their first Octagon win. Moares’ grappling prowess proved to be the difference as he outlasted Forte’s more technical striking and secured a fight-ending rear-naked choke in the final frame.
Middleweight Chris Camozzi picked up a third straight Octagon win by outstriking Brazilian Luiz Cane. Cane was making his 185-pound debut, but Camozzi never let him get a rhythm on the feet and ultimately claimed the fight on the scorecards.
In a back-and-forth affair, lightweight Cristiano Marcello may have gotten a gift from the Brazilian judges to claim a split decision win over Reza Madadi. The fight was primarily contested on the feet, with Madadi mixing in the occasional takedown. Yet, in the end, it was Marcello who came out victorious.
Anderson Silva def. Stephan Bonnar by TKO (knee and punches). Round 1, 4:40
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Dave Herman by submission (armbar). Round 2, 4:31
Glover Teixeira def. Fabio Maldonado by TKO (doctor’s stoppage). Round 2, 5:00
Jon Fitch def. Erick Silva by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Phil Davis def. Wagner Prado by submission (anaconda choke). Round 2, 4:29
Demian Maia def. Rick Story by submission (neck crank). Round 1, 2:30
Rony “Jason” Bezerra def. Sam Sicilia by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:16
Gleison Tibau def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Diego Brandao def. Joey Gambino by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Sergio Moraes def. Renee Forte by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 3:10
Chris Camozzi def. Luiz Cane by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Cristiano Marcello def. Reza Madadi by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Photo: Anderson Silva (James Law/Heavy MMA)