One of the truly great fighters in MMA, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, returns to the Octagon this Saturday in a fight that has taken combat sports fans by surprise. UFC 153 lost both its original main event and co-main event to injury, so when the UFC scrambled to find fighters to fill the slot it was Silva who stepped up and offered to take a fight a weight class up on short notice.
His opponent is long time UFC Light Heavyweight Stephan Bonnar, who is most famous for his famous fight against Forrest Griffin on the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bonnar is a well rounded fighter with good, but not great skills in every aspect of MMA. A former gold gloves boxer and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bonnar has 15 fights in the UFC but has struggled with the upper level Light Heavyweights he has faced. But to Bonnar's credit, of his seven career losses, six of them came to men who at some point in their careers held a UFC title at either Light Heavyweight or Heavyweight.
While Bonnar has a size advantage, Silva is a supremely skilled fighter who is 15-0 in his UFC career and 32-4 overall as a professional. Silva is primarily a striker, specializing is boxing and muay thai kickboxing but is also skilled on the ground with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and six submission wins to his name. Three years ago, Silva faced Forrest Griffin, in Griffin's first fight after losing his Light Heavyweight title. Silva didn't just defeat Griffin, he embarrassed Griffin in one of the most masterful performances in MMA history. While Silva's weak wrestling leaves any skilled grappler a dim ray of hope, he is an overwhelming favorite to win.
Also on the main card, Light Heavyweight Glover Teixeira (18-2) makes his second UFC appearance against Brazilian boxer Fabio Maldonado (18-5). Teixeira is a salty veteran who just recently made his UFC debut and is looking to launch himself quickly into a title shot against Jon Jones. Anderson Silva's coach and mentor, Heavyweight legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1) will face Dave Herman (21-4). This is Nogueira's first fight since getting his arm broken by Frank Mir in dramatic fashion in December of last year.
Hot Brazilian prospect Erick Silva (14-2) is faced with perennial Welterweight contender Jon Fitch (23-4-1, and is Silva is able to dispatch Fitch it will launch the young Brazilian into the title picture. American prospect Phil Davis (9-1 1 NC) rematches with Wagner Prado (8-0 1 NC) after their first match was ruled a no contest due to an acidental eye poke. And Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia (16-4) takes on the violent Rick Story (14-5) to round out a stacked main card.
On the undercard American Top Team fighter Gleison Tibau (25-8) takes on Francisco Trinaldo (11-1). Though Brazilian by birth, Tibau moved to Florida to train with the elite coaching staff at American Top Team and has fought in the UFC since 2006. Also on the undercard is Luiz Cane (12-4), who trains out Jupiter, Florida at The Armory gym. Cane has struggled in the UFC, going 5-4 and could very well be fighting for his job against Chris Camozzi (17-5).
Full Fight Card
Main Card (PPV) 10pm E.T.
Anderson Silva (32-4) vs. Stephan Bonnar (14-7)
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 1 NC) vs. Dave Herman (21-4)
Glover Teixeira (18-2) vs. Fabio Maldonado (18-5)
Jon Fitch (23-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Erick Silva (14-2, 1 NC)
Demian Maia (16-4) vs. Rick Story (14-5)
Phil Davis (9-1, 1 NC) vs. Wagner Prado (8-0, 1 NC)
Preliminary Card (FX) 8pm E.T.
Rony Jason (11-3) vs. Sam Sicilia (11-0)
Diego Brandao (14-8) vs. Joey Gambino (9-1)
Gleison Tibau (25-8) vs. Francisco Drinaldo (11-1)
Sergio Moraes (6-2) vs. Renee Forte (7-1)
Preliminary Card (Facebook) 7:00 pm E.T.
Luiz Cane (13-4, 1 NC) vs. Chris Camozzi (17-5)
Cristiano Marcello (12-4) vs. Reza Madadi (12-2)