The UFC is back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with UFC 153 this Saturday, October 13th. The preliminary action starts on Facebook at 6:45pm est, followed by the FX prelims at 8:00pm est, and the main card on ppv starts at 10:00pm est. Much like every MMA event these days, this card has been plagued by the injury bug, claiming: Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Alan Belcher, Jose Aldo, Erik Koch, and Geronimo Dos Santos. Never the less, the show must go on, so Anderson Silva stepped in to save the Brazil card, as he faces Stephan Bonnar in a somewhat lopsided main event. Unsurprisingly, it’s an incredibly Brazilian heavy card, and there are some very good match ups. Let’s get this picks thing out of the way, shall we?
Anderson Silva (32-4) vs. Stephan Bonnar (14-7)
Undefeated in the UFC, with a record 15 consecutive wins, 10 record title defenses, and widely considered the best MMA fighter of all time. If you don’t know who Anderson Silva is, you’re probably on the wrong site. Bonnar is also a pretty mainstream fighter, as the original TUF runner-up, and basically a mid-level light heavyweight. While he is an excellent BJJ black belt under the late Carlson Gracie, Bonnar is most well known for being able to absorb punishment and overcome adversity. Silva will be moving up to 205 in this non-title fight against Bonnar, and even though it’s the main event, it’s scheduled for only 3 rounds. Silva is by far the superior striker, with better technique, speed, footwork, you name it. Both men are finishers on the ground, but I feel that it will be something of a stalemate if they end up in that position, with the advantage going to whoever ends up on top. The clinch game is what makes this fight even a little bit interesting, because if Bonnar intends to fight Silva in some kind of brawl, he will be obliterated… Anderson won’t play that game. As the bigger and stronger fighter, Bonnar may have something to work with in the clinch, possibly being able to bully Silva around a bit, and possibly try and fatigue the Brazilian in this manner. The only problem is that Anderson is excellent in the clinch himself, and if you allow him to make any space to land his knees, that’s all she wrote. So Bonnar’s best bet, in my opinion, is to try and work the clinch game, and if he ends up in trouble, pulling guard wouldn’t be a bad idea. That being said, Bonnar is an immense underdog for a reason, and I’m obviously going with Silva for the win (but betting on Bonnar)
Winner: Anderson Silva
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1-1) vs. Dave Herman (21-4)
Nogueira is a former Pride champion, and MMA legend. He is quickly nearing the end of his career, but still above the 50% mark in the UFC, going 4-3. He’s been improving his striking for a long time, and it’s coming along nicely, but his advanced age doesn’t leave him much wiggle room for improvement. That’s why he sports a 3rd degree black belt in BJJ, with 20 of his wins coming by way of submission. Nogueira is coming off a devastating loss to Frank Mir in his last fight, having his arm broken in the process. Herman is a powerful and athletic heavyweight who started his career at 15-0 with almost all but 1 fight ending in a first round knockout. It’s clear what type of a fighter he is. He’s got big power, and he brings the heat early and often, utilizing punches, kicks and knees in an effort to overwhelm his opponents. It doesn’t always work out at the elite level though, as he was knocked out in his last two fights against Struve and Nelson. Nogueira is the more technical boxer, but Herman has more strikes in his arsenal, as well as bigger knockout power. The submission advantage easily goes to Nogueira, but Herman has excellent takedown defense, so I think we’re in for a kickboxing match for the most part on Saturday night. This is a bit of a tough one to call, because although Nogueira is technically the better fighter, you never know which Nogueira will show up that night. If he’s stiff and lurchy with his striking, Herman may be able to jump on him early and get a finish. If not, Nogueira will survive the early storm, and go on to out-point his opponent with his sharper boxing skills. At least, that’s what I hope will happen.
Winner: Antonio Rodrigo Nongueira
Glover Teixeira (18-2) vs. Fabio Maldonado (18-5)
Teixeira has been around the game forever, working with Marco Ruas, and John Hackleman as a long time training partner of UFC hall of famer Chuck Liddell. As you can imagine, his boxing and wrestling skills are top notch, and he has insane knockout power in his punches. He is also an accomplished grappler, holding a black belt in BJJ and competing internationally in many elite grappling tournaments. Teixeira had a bit of a rocky start, but he’s currently on a 15 fight win streak, with only one fight going the distance. Madonado has been fighting in both MMA and boxing concurrently, holding a record of 22-0 with 21 knockouts in the sweet science. His whole game is geared toward striking, with great technique, speed in his hands, and a solid chin. Now that doesn’t mean he’s unfamiliar with the ground game either, as he touts a brown belt in BJJ, but his wrestling is somewhat lacking. This should be one hell of a fight, as both of these guys love to bang, and neither man has ever been knocked out. It’s hard to say who will win the striking game, because it’s pretty close and one punch could end it all. What tips the scales for me, is that Teixeira will be able to dictate where this fight takes place, due to his wrestling advantage. Possible fight of the night, knockout of the night, who knows… Either way, I seriously doubt that we will be disappointed after this one.
Winner: Glover Teixeira
Jon Fitch (23-4-1-1) vs. Erick Silva (14-2-0-1)
Fitch comes from a wrestling background, trains out of AKA, and holds the record for most decisions in the UFC, at 11.. Aside from a single loss to GSP, Fitch went unbeaten for over 6 years, until he got blasted by Johnny Hendricks in 12 seconds flat. Fitch has not fought since, suffering a knee injury during training which kept him out of the game for nearly 10 months now. Silva is a former Jungle Fights champion, and one of the top welterweight prospects to come out of Brazil. Although he’s a Team Nogueira fighter, you would probably peg him as a Chute Boxe guy when you see his style. He is very similar to Wanderlei Silva, but more agile and technical with his attack. He has knockout power, but he usually just drops guys with a punch and finishes them off with strikes from the top, or a lightning fast submission hold. The striking game is all Silva, and it could be close on the ground, but if Fitch gets on top, I think he has the experience to stay out of trouble and grind away at Silva. Given that Fitch was knocked out in 12 seconds last year, I’m assuming we will see a much more careful and reserved Fitch. This really is a big step up in competition for Silva, and I’m not sure if he will have an answer for Fitch’s smothering top game (assuming it gets there). Fitch was always known for his ability to absorb punishment, but who knows, Silva may find that same spot that Hendricks found, and catapult himself up the rankings with a win over Fitch.
Winner: Jon Fitch
Reminder: This fight takes place on Saturday night, so make sure to get those picks up in time. Good luck fight fans.