New light-heavyweight challengers emerge, Jon Fitch makes a face turn, and Anderson Silva still sits comfortably atop MMA’s throne. FanSided’s Elton Hobson breaks down the 5 biggest lessons we learned from UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar
Before we get into the serious and nuanced analysis of this past Saturday’s fantastic UFC 153 event, I’d like to address another topic first: shameless bragging.
See, in my last preview and prediction (for Bigfoot vs. Browne on FX) I went a sterling 0 for 4 in my fight picks. That’s not exactly a strong statistic for the guy with “MMA Editor” next to his name. I even wrote about it in my UFC 153 preview, warning readers that my fistic prognostications were not to be trusted.
Well, turns out that was the only thing I was wrong about in my entire preview – this time, I went a stellar 6 for 6 in the pre-fight predictions. So if I may, I’d like to utter a hearty, George Costanza-esque “Baby, I’m back!”. From now on, my pre-fight predictions are to be considered the word of God himself. You know, until the next time I completely flop – but right now, I’m reigning king of MMA predictions.
Ok, enough shameless self-promotion. Let’s break down the biggest things we learned from this weekend’s UFC 153.
Anderson Silva is the man
Ok, this one doesn’t really count. As many folks have pointed out, Silva was widely expected to walk right through Stephan Bonnar. And he did. So…what’s the big deal?
Well, the “big deal” is that Bonnar had never been finished in his UFC career (which included facing guys like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones). Silva finished him with a single, Hulk-like knee to the sternum. And before that, he absolutely clowned with Bonnar – standing against the cage, hands down, daring Stephan to hit him and then making him miss. It was truly a master’s class from the master himself.
Except we already knew Anderson Silva was the man, and he didn’t need to beat Stephan Bonnar to prove it. Ok, fair point. We’ll call this one a “bonus” lesson, or just another reminder to MMA fans everywhere who the undisputed baddest man on the planet really is.
Fans should shut up
Now before you accuse me of drinking the Hator-ade, let me be clear: I don’t mean all fans, everywhere. Just the ones who have been complaining for months now about the quality of the UFC’s cards. The ones who drop words like “oversaturation” and “consumer fatigue” in casual conversation. The ones who mercilessly derided this injury-ravaged card (what else is new?) as a complete waste of time.
Yes, you guys. Do please shut up now.
UFC 153 was the best MMA event of any kind I’ve seen all year. I admit I didn’t watch the prelims (I don’t get FX in my isolated Canadian igloo) but from top to bottom the main card – which is what we’re paying $49.99 for after all – was fantastic. Every single fight delivered. There were all out wars and spectacular finishes. Not one fight disappointed.
This card was a sterling success from top to bottom and the UFC deserves full credit for saving it after the Jose Aldo/Frankie Edgar main event fell through. If this is an example of an “oversaturated”, underbooked UFC card – please, please keep oversaturating and underbooking, Mr. Silva. It’s working wonders.
Jon Fitch can be exciting!
Come Sunday morning, you could literally hear the sound of MMA fans across the globe piling onto the Jon Fitch bandwagon.
Holy crap Jon. Even as a longtime fan of yours, I didn’t expect a barnburner of a fight like this. I expected to be watching in rapt attention while everyone around me was asleep, shouting excitedly about things like “positional control” and “battles of attrition” while my friends nodded off or played on their phones. Instead, you gave us exactly what you said you were going to: the fight of the night.
And Erick Silva, even in defeat, was equally impressive. Jon Fitch is one of the toughest fighters in the welterweight division and Silva took him down to the wire. In fact, anyone but Fitch or Ben Henderson would have submitted to the rear naked choke in the 2nd round. Despite the setback, I see nothing but good things in this kid’s future.
Welcome aboard the Jon Fitch bandwagon, everyone. It’s nice to finally have some company.
Jon Jones hasn’t (yet) cleared out his division
Coming off of UFC 153, all the talk was about a potential Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva superfight. I found this odd, since both men have unequivocally stated that they’re not interested in this fight. Dana White claims that money talks (and it does) but I still don’t think this fight is very likely to happen.
Besides, Jon isn’t finished his business at light-heavyweight in nearly the same fashion as Anderson is at middleweight, and last night proved it. Two men – Phil Davis and Glover Teixeira – emerged as clear future challengers for Jon’s title, and also showed that they were clear threats to whomever they face.
All the light-heavyweights who turned down a fight with Glover are looking mighty smart come Monday morning. He absolutely dominated Fabio Maldonado in one of the most dominant, one-sided beatings in UFC history. Massive credit must be given to Maldonado for hanging tough as long as he did, but with the exception of one left hook in the opening round this fight was all Glover. Former UFC champion Chuck Liddell believes Teixeira has the tools to dethrone Jon Jones, and judging from last night – it’s hard to argue with him.
Phil Davis was equally impressive, submitting Wagner Prado with a slick anaconda choke in the second round of their battle. Davis is a still a work in progress – his fight with Rashad Evans proved that – but he has the speed, power, athleticism, and wrestling pedigree to give Jon Jones fits. Given a bit more seasoning, he could very well be the man to hand Jones his first (actual) defeat at light-heavyweight.
My point is Jon’s work is not yet done at 205 pounds. Before we talk about him facing a fighter from a lighter weight class, let’s see him take down the lions of his division first.
Game plans make fights
Sometimes, the actual skills, abilities, and physical talents of the fighters don’t matter as much as how they choose to approach the fight. And last night gave us two sterling examples of fighters who’s natural gifts and talents were nullified by incredibly bad fight-strategy.
Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira took his UFC 153 fight with Dave Herman on a month’s notice, coming off of very serious surgery to repair a broken arm. He looked slow, out of shape, and at times quite plodding. Dave Herman was bigger, stronger, longer, had a better wrestling pedigree and looked to be in phenomenal shape.
He should have had a clear advantage – except his game plan consisted of standing flat-footed, arms in a starange Karate-style stance, while Big Nog tagged him with bombs, dropped him, and eventually submitted him. That’s not to take away from Minotauro, who is a true warrior and still dangerous even on short notice. But my goodness, what was “Pee Wee” thinking?
And then there’s the Demian Maia vs. Rick Story fight, which featured BJJ master Maia vs. strong wrestler Story. You’d expect Story to use his wrestling in reverse to keep the fight standing and work Maia on the feet. Well, if that was his game plan, it didn’t work – Maia dragged him down, tied him in knots, and had him tapping out inside a round.
Now I’m not sure this is a game planning issue with Story, but for the second time he’s been absolutely handled in the wrestling department by a guy he was supposed to dominate (the other being Charlie Brenneman). We need to see a return to the dynamic, mix-it-up Story who terrorized guys like Thiago Alves – otherwise, I don’t see much of a future for him among the welterweight division’s elite.