MMA Review: #395: UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar

-As was pretty standard for a UFC show in 2012, this card was completely changed by injuries, as the initial main event had been Jose Aldo vs. Erik Koch for the Featherweight Title, with the two semi-mains being Rampage Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira and Vitor Belfort vs. Alan Belcher. In the end, only Teixeira remained on the card after Koch was first injured and replaced by Frankie Edgar before Aldo himself dropped out, killing that fight; Rampage injured his elbow and pulled out to be replaced by Fabio Maldonado; and Belfort stepped up to fight Jon Jones a month before, leaving Belcher without an opponent before he got hurt too. Thankfully though Zuffa were able to rescue the card, as Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira came in to save the day, taking fights with Stephan Bonnar and Dave Herman respectfully. Pretty crazy how things turn out in the end.

UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar

Rio De Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: Cristiano Marcello vs Reza Madadi

Iranian-Swede Madadi had made a successful Octagon debut in April, tapping out Yoislandy Izquierdo in an odd fight where he literally threw like two or three punches over the period of two rounds before choking Izquierdo out. Marcello meanwhile was coming off his TUF 15 run and a post-reality show knockout loss to Sam Sicilia, so his job was on the line for sure. My pick was Mad Dog Madadi as I thought he’d be able to outstrike Marcello and could outwrestle him too.

Round One and Madadi pushes forward right away but walks into a couple of glancing strikes from Marcello. Crowd are chanting loudly already. Good combination from Marcello. He’s catching Madadi nicely coming forward. Wild right hand misses for Marcello and Madadi lands a decent left before clinching for a second. They break off quickly though and Madadi walks into a couple of jabs. Good combination lands for Madadi and Marcello has to back up. Head kick glances for Marcello. Superman punch into the clinch for Madadi but Marcello separates with a one-two. Good left hook from Madadi and he follows with a right hand into another clinch. Right hook breaks for Madadi. One-two from Marcello but Madadi catches him with a big left hook that wobbles him slightly. Overhand right follows and Marcello’s in trouble. He backs up with his chin high and Madadi cracks him again with another left before clinching. Marcello breaks off but he’s sporting a bloody nose now. Uppercut lands for Madadi and he continues to swing, and Marcello looks like he’s struggling. Pair of leg kicks land for the Brazilian though. Takedown from Madadi late on and he lands in half-guard. He decides to stand over him though and taunts him a bit as Marcello throws some kicks. Referee Fernando Yamasaki calls him up and he ends the round with a pair of wild kicks. 10-9 Madadi.

Round Two and Madadi continues to push forward, landing a left hand. Marcello comes back with a right, but he’s still taking hard punches from Madadi. Couple of stiff jabs land for Madadi. Heavy uppercut into a left hook from Madadi. Good body kick from Marcello and he follows with a flurry, but Madadi puts a stop to that with a right hand. Awesome uppercut into a left hook connect cleanly for Madadi and he follows in with a big flurry and then a right hand. Marcello keeps leaning back with his chin high which isn’t helping his cause. Good body punch from Marcello and a jab follows, and now he lands a pair of hooks as it looks like Madadi’s cut over the left eye. Wild right hook from Madadi sets up the uppercut, and they clinch. They break off and continue to swing, and Madadi absolutely nails him with a couple of haymakers. Surprising that Marcello’s still standing in fact. High kick into a jab from Marcello and Madadi now has blood running all over his face. HEAVY right hand connects for Madadi in an exchange from close range and snaps Marcello’s head back, and a knee and a left have the Brazilian on the run. Madadi comes in with a flurry and they wildly exchange along the fence, and again Marcello amazes me by taking some brutal shots. He runs away though and Madadi closes in with another flurry and hits a slam to guard this time. This is a fucking great fight. Ref randomly stands them up for no good reason with seconds to go, and they continue to exchange haymakers until the round ends. 10-9 Madadi but that was a hell of a round.

Round Three and Madadi opens with a huge counter right hand as Marcello swings at him. Marcello keeps coming forward, but Madadi lands a stiff jab to keep him back. Good leg kick from Marcello and he just keeps on swinging. Takedown from Madadi into the guard. Triangle attempt from Marcello but Madadi pulls out and stands. Another stiff jab from Madadi but Marcello fires back with a right hook. Good left hook from Marcello pegs Madadi back a little. They continue to trade and Marcello looks like he’s outlanding Madadi now until Madadi cracks him with an uppercut. Spinning back kick lands for Marcello and Madadi acknowledges it with a bit of a bow, which causes the crowd to boo wildly. Big overhand right into an uppercut from Madadi and Marcello goes on the run and then shoots. Madadi stuffs the takedown, but eats a knee on the way out and Marcello follows with a big right hand to the body that has Madadi on the retreat. Marcello keeps coming in with another shot to the body and they continue to swing at one another. Round ends on the feet and Marcello has the advantage. 10-9 Marcello but I have this 29-28 for Madadi overall.

Judges score it 29-28 Madadi, 29-28 Marcello and 30-27 for Cristiano Marcello. Well, that 30-27 is absolutely fucking baffling even if you could maaaaybe argue for Marcello winning based on the first round being quite close. Ridiculous judging right there. Fight was a ton of fun though, one of the best openers of 2012 I’d say as they threw caution to the wind and just went to WAR. And who doesn’t enjoy watching that?

Middleweight Fight: Luiz Cane vs Chris Camozzi

This was Cane’s first foray into the 185lbs division after a loss to Stanislav Nedkov and over a year on the shelf with various injuries. To me this seemed like a good match for him though as Camozzi is more of a brawling type and isn’t that big for 185lbs, which I thought would play right into Banha’s hands.

Fight begins and Camozzi comes out swinging, backing Cane up a little with some strikes although he doesn’t land cleanly. One minute gone and Camozzi seems to be beating Cane to the punch. Good right hand lands for Camozzi. Nice knee to the body follows. Kick is caught though and Cane gets a suplex right into back control, getting both hooks and going for the choke. Camozzi gets rid of one of the hooks, but the choke looks sunk for a second. Camozzi manages to survive though, but he takes some clean punches. He manages to scramble back up, but takes a knee from Cane on his way out. Combo from Camozzi fires right back though. Beautiful three-punch combo connects for Camozzi. Knee lands clean to the body too. Camozzi is just totally outstriking Cane here. Round ends with more of the same as Camozzi continues to outland Cane standing, countering and showing more aggression and rocking him with a right on the buzzer. 10-9 Camozzi.

Into the 2nd and again Camozzi starts aggressively, backing the Brazilian up with combinations. More of the same follows, even when Cane presses forward, as Camozzi strings his counterpunches together well too. Pair of right hooks land for Camozzi and Cane now has a bloody nose. Good chopping leg kick from Cane. Camozzi comes back with a left hand and a right to the body. More combinations land for Camozzi and he’s got Cane backing up big time now. Nice knee into a left hook from Camozzi. Strong right hand from Cane but Camozzi fires back with three or four punches that stop Banha from following up. Good knee from Cane when Camozzi clinches for a second, but Camozzi fires back and hurts him with a left hand. Seconds to go and it’s still advantage Camozzi. 10-9 Camozzi and Cane needs a stoppage.

3rd and final round and Camozzi picks up where he left off, landing more combinations. Big left hand catches him coming forward though and Cane follows with a hard leg kick into a one-two. Camozzi just takes it though and keeps pushing forward with combos. More of the same follows before Cane manages to catch him with a counter-combo. Camozzi just doesn’t seem affected though and he continues to play the aggressor. Two minutes to go and it looks like Camozzi might be slowing down very slightly as Cane begins to land some more, but Chris still doesn’t seem fazed. Takedown attempt is stuffed by Camozzi but he takes a hard body shot. Good left by Camozzi, answered by a right from Cane. Straight left follows and he’s beginning to take over a bit more now. Another takedown attempt is stuffed by Camozzi but he takes a pair of good punches in the process. Left hand answers for the TUF veteran. Seconds to go and they trade some big shots, with Cane absolutely CRACKING him with a one-two on the buzzer. 10-9 Cane but 29-28 Camozzi overall.

Judges thankfully get this one right, 29-28 all round for Chris Camozzi. Camozzi looked excellent here, showing great timing with his strikes and just the right amount of aggression to constantly have Cane going backwards without leaving himself open for heavy counters. Until the third round Cane just looked flat which I guess you could put down to the weight cut, but I think that’d be taking away from a great performance from Camozzi. Big upset in my eyes.

Welterweight Fight: Sergio Moraes vs Renee Forte

Both of these men were veterans of the TUF Brazil series and they’d both competed as 185lbers on the show and were dropping to 170lbs here. Forte had looked like a tiny 185lbs on the show so I thought this was a good move for him, but I couldn’t see him getting past Serginho, who was the naturally bigger man as well as a far better BJJ player, and Forte’s game is grappling rather than striking.

Round One and they circle with Forte taking the center of the cage. Literally no contact between the two for like the first minute which is odd. Serginho starts teasing a couple of low kicks before Forte closes in, but in a nice bit of timing Moraes ducks under and hits a takedown. Forte quickly works back to his feet but Sergio carries him across the cage and tries to drag him down again. Good defense by Forte to remain standing, and they clinch up against the fence with Moraes continuing to look for a single leg. Good knee to the midsection by Forte and he manages to break free. Another takedown follows for Moraes but again Forte bounces back up to his feet into the clinch. Beautiful dropping takedown from Moraes though and he finally ends up on top in half-guard. Sick move from Moraes allows him to hop onto the back as Forte turns slightly, but he ends up too high and slips off the top. Forte stands over him but looks to have taken a kick to the groin as he does so. He recovers though and lands some kicks to the legs with Moraes in the butt-scoot position. Ref calls Moraes back to his feet and they circle with Forte almost walking into a big knee. Nice body kick into a right hand from Forte. Forte keeps pushing forward but can’t land anything significant. Left glances for Sergio. Round ends on the feet. 10-10 round in my eyes as neither man really got off with anything truly significant and Moraes didn’t keep a dominant position on the ground.

Round Two and both men open with some punches that miss before Forte shrugs off a takedown attempt. They continue with the striking exchange and well, you can tell that both men are natural grapplers. Single leg attempt from Moraes and he switches to a double as Forte defends. Moraes manages to elevate him and get him down though. Forte gets his back to the cage in a seated position and works to his feet, but Moraes stays on him and looks for a guillotine before releasing. They circle out and Forte shrugs off another takedown. Deep single leg is well defended by Forte and Sergio is looking tired, taking some deep breaths. They trade a couple of punches with both men landing before Forte stuffs a takedown and lands a knee. Into the clinch and Moraes forces him into the fence. Action slows so Mario Yamasaki calls a break, and we’ve got one minute to go. Solid right hook connects for Forte. Winging left hook misses. Moraes keeps stretching his arms out, not sure whether he’s taunting Forte or just extending his arms. Nice uppercut into a left hook from Forte and Sergio looks hurt, stumbling backwards. Forte follows in and stuffs a takedown to get on top for a moment before Moraes drops to his back. Forte stands over him and the round ends there. 10-9 Forte.

Round Three and Forte pushes forward with a blocked head kick. Forte is really swinging here. Both guys miss some punches and glance on some too. Crowd start to boo as the action isn’t really mind-blowing. Decent combo from Forte but Moraes looks for a takedown. Forte defends, but in the scramble Moraes quickly grabs an over/under and takes the back. He gets both hooks in and clings on as Forte stands, then switches to a body triangle. Forte is in deep trouble here. He tries to defend the choke, but Sergio keeps working and after a struggle he gets it locked up for the tapout.

Bit of a dull-ish fight if I’m honest as Moraes struggled to get Forte down and neither man looked that great standing, but once he DID get a dominant position Moraes was incredibly efficient at finishing the fight, as you’d expect from a BJJ whiz like him. Forte has since dropped to 155lbs which I think is a good move for him.

Featherweight Fight: Diego Brandao vs Joey Gambino

After a disappointing post-TUF loss to Darren Elkins (one of the biggest upsets of 2012 in my eyes), Brandao was faced with a much less heralded opponent in Tristar’s Gambino, who while sounding like an Italian gangster, is actually based up in Montreal! Despite Gambino appearing on Bloody Elbow’s 2012 Scouting Report there was no way I was picking against Brandao here.

First round begins and they circle before Brandao lands a BIG HEAD KICK that folds Gambino! He lands some big shots to the side of the head looking for the finish, but Joey manages to survive and scrambles up to his feet. Brandao keeps pushing forward and lands with a leg kick. Another leg kick follows. Brandao looks much calmer than usual here. Another nice leg kick connects for the TUF winner. Wild swings miss for both men. Combo from Gambino but he eats a right hand counter from Brandao. Brandao follows with a side kick to the body. Nice straight right lands for Gambino. Another one follows. Gambino gets a clinch and forces Brandao into the fence, where they exchange some knees. Nice takedown from Brandao and he lands on top in side mount. Mount attempt but Gambino manages to catch him into half-guard. One minute to go and Brandao chips away at the body before Gambino manages to get full guard. Good upkick from Gambino as Brandao stands, and they’re back on their feet. Nice left hand connects for Gambino. Spinning back kick glances for Gambino but he eats a left from Diego. Takedown is blocked by Brandao to end the round. 10-9 Brandao.

Second round and Brandao looks fresh and pushes forward with a side kick. Good right hand from Gambino and it backs the TUF winner up. Jumping front kick follows but doesn’t land. Good leg kick from Brandao. BRUTAL RIGHT HOOK drops Gambino HARD and he’s in big trouble. Diego looks to follow up but Gambino evidently has a chin of granite as he manages to hold the TUF winner off. Full mount from Brandao though but Gambino manages to get back to half-guard. Gambino is a tough dude. Full guard now for Gambino. Big elbows land for Brandao from the top. Armbar attempt from Gambino but Brandao manages to pull free and calls him back up to his feet. Left hook to the body into a right leg kick lands for Brandao. They clinch and exchange some knees before Diego drops for the takedown. Gambino does a good job of defending though and they remain clinched. Brandao tries again though and this time he hits a big slam into full guard. Good shots from the top from Brandao as Gambino holds on from the guard. Ref decides to call an odd stand-up, and Diego misses a wild step-in side elbow. Head kick from Gambino is blocked. Couple of jabs glance for Gambino and the round ends on the feet. 10-9 Brandao.

Third and final round and Gambino comes out swinging early, but he can’t connect as Brandao doesn’t look at all tired. Left hand lands for Gambino. Gambino continues to push the action, throwing combos, but Brandao catches a kick and drops him with a BIG RIGHT. This time he waves Joey back up and somehow the dude doesn’t look hurt. Guy has an amazing chin. Big right misses for Diego and Gambino looks for a takedown, but Brandao stuffs it nicely and forces him into the fence. Trip takedown from Brandao into the guard, where he lands shots to the body and the head. Triangle attempt from Gambino is shrugged off and Brandao passes into side mount for a moment before Gambino gets half-guard back. Referee Fernando Yamasaki calls another quick stand-up, with about 1:30 remaining. Action slows down a little, with Gambino landing a stiff left jab. Good combo follows for Joey. Right hand connects from Brandao to back him up though. Seconds to go and Diego begins to taunt him a little, and that’s the fight. I’ve got this a clear 30-27 for Diego Brandao.

All three judges agree with me and it’s a unanimous decision for Diego Brandao. Pretty good fight and as a fan of Brandao’s it was pleasing to see, as he clearly changed his approach after gassing in the Elkins fight, and took a much more measured gameplan into this fight. Sure, it meant he wasn’t quite as wild and exciting as before, but fighting that way would only have run him into problems against tougher opponents while coming in like this, he has the skills to be a legit contender in my eyes. Gambino looked tough but really this was one step too far for him and I think he could do with some more time on the smaller circuit to develop his game a bit.

Lightweight Fight: Gleison Tibau vs Francsico Trinaldo

This to me was the most intriguing prelim of the night, as I’ve become a huge fan of Massaranduba’s since his TUF Brazil run and thought that this was the perfect opportunity for him to make some serious noise in the UFC, as only really top elite-level fighters ever get past Tibau and in my eyes Massaranduba has that sort of potential. With Tibau’s big strength being his huge size and Massaranduba dropping from 185lbs too, I thought he’d be able to deal with Tibau’s takedowns and outstrike him to win by decision or TKO.

Round One and they come out tentatively to begin, circling with Trinaldo looking to throw the left hand. Decent right hand lands for Tibau in a brief exchange, and a powerful takedown follows. Massaranduba scrambles to his feet, but Tibau grabs an arm-in guillotine and looks to lock it up, jumping to guard. Trinaldo manages to work his head free though, popping the crowd big. Tibau stays right on him and forces him into the fence with a knee. They exchange some short punches to the body before Tibau breaks off with a combo. Body kick from Trinaldo is caught and Tibau lands with a pair of left hands before getting another takedown. Massaranduba works right back up again though and separates the clinch with an elbow. Good right to the body from Trinaldo. Wild flurry from Trinaldo follows but Tibau grabs a clinch and forces him back into the fence. Both men land solid knees to the body before Trinaldo reverses position, but Tibau breaks off with a knee and then looks for another takedown. Trinaldo stuffs it this time and lands a really sharp knee to the body and follows that with some more knees from the plum clinch and a decent combination. Takedown from Tibau though and he lands in the full guard. Looks like Massaranduba’s content to wait the round out as he ties Tibau up until the round ends. 10-9 Tibau.

Round Two and Trinaldo pushes forward with a glancing right hand. Big swings miss for both men as Trinaldo continues to stalk forward. Jab connects for the TUF Brazil veteran. Big left misses though. Tibau clinches and forces him into the fence, but Trinaldo breaks off with a nice elbow strike. Massaranduba continues to push forward, and this time he lands with a HUGE OVERHAND LEFT that sends Tibau down HARD! Crowd go crazy as Trinaldo takes the back and spins right into a rear naked choke with both hooks in, but Tibau does a tremendous job of defending and manages to avoid being choked out. Looks like Massaranduba might be attempting to transition for an arm triangle choke, and he uses that to mount and really look for the finish. Tibau manages to pop out though, but he’s still on the bottom in half-guard and Trinaldo begins to feed him a steady diet of heavy elbows to the head. Some big shots connect for Trinaldo from the half-guard, but Tibau manages to reclaim full guard. Trinaldo continues to wing down big punches, but it looks like Tibau’s recovered a little now and he’s covering up to avoid the biggest shots. He’s still taking a lot of damage here though. Back into half-guard for Massaranduba and he continues to land shots, but the round ends before he can really look to finish things. Erm, in my eyes it’d be a 10-8 as Trinaldo came close to finishing with the choke and did a lot of damage, but most judges would probably call it 10-9 Trinaldo.

Round Three and both men come out SWINGING WILDLY and miss some big shots but land some too, with Tibau landing a really heavy left hand. Pretty crazy exchange for a moment actually. Finally Tibau decides to put an end to the madness and drops for a double, planting Trinaldo on his back in full guard. Couple of elbows connect for Tibau from the top and he lands some small hammerfists for good measure, impressing Matt Serra, wherever he may be. Nice pass into half-guard from Tibau. Referee Marc Goddard decides to call a weird stand-up despite Tibau working, and they restart standing before Tibau wastes no time and tackles Massaranduba right back down into guard. Back to half-guard for Tibau and this time he manages to get all the way into full mount with about 1:45 remaining. It’s a super-tight mount too with Tibau’s legs crossed underneath Trinaldo. Arm triangle attempt follows for Gleison and it looks tight, but Trinaldo manages to lock down on a leg and gives the thumbs up to show he’s fine. Tibau keeps on squeezing and then hops back to full mount, but then gives up on the choke probably due to lack of energy. Less than thirty seconds remaining now and Tibau still has full mount, and he ends the fight in the dominant position. 10-9 Tibau and I’d score it 28-28 for a draw I think, but the likelihood is 29-28 Tibau.

Judges indeed all have it 29-28 for Tibau. Well, even if by my scoring it was a draw, Tibau clearly “won” the fight so no complaints from me. Pretty good fight actually if nothing spectacular, as Tibau did a tremendous job of weathering a nasty second-round storm to overcome a difficult opponent. I still maintain Trinaldo’s ceiling is perhaps higher despite the loss, as he won’t come across many 155lbers like Tibau who are able to outmuscle him like that, but you definitely can’t take anything away from Tibau’s performance here, so props to him.

Featherweight Fight: Rony Jason vs Sam Sicilia

This one pretty much guaranteed fireworks, with TUF Brazil winner Jason – known for his wild Muay Thai style and aggressive BJJ on the ground – taking on TUF 15’s heavy-handed brawler Sicilia, a guy who swings brutal punches and does little else. With Jason being more well-rounded he was the obvious pick, but you can never count a guy with Sicilia’s power out.

Fight begins and the crowd are HOT for Jason, who seems to be in the same position in Brazil as Forrest Griffin was in the US coming off his TUF win in 2005. BIG head kick misses for the Brazilian though and he slips to the floor, but bounces up before Sicilia can capitalise. Sicilia pushes forward, but walks into a nasty flying knee to the body and Jason follows up with a BIG LEFT HOOK that wobbles the TUF 15 veteran. Sicilia decides to fight fire with fire and swings right back as Jason closes in, but as they separate his eye looks pretty cut up. Sicilia comes forward swinging though, forcing Jason onto his back foot. Jason fires right back and another left follows to wobble Sicilia, but this time he manages to tackle Jason down into full guard. Nice ground-and-pound with the right hand from Sicilia, but Jason kicks him away. Sicilia drops back down with another hard right into the guard, but right away Rony ties him up. Triangle attempt follows but Sicilia manages to shake it off and drops some more ground-and-pound. Ridiculously fast stand-up from referee Fernando Yamasaki and they’re on their feet with two minutes to go. Action finally slows down before Jason lands a glancing head kick and a BIG flying knee that looked like it connected with the jaw to me. Sicilia shrugs it off though and pushes forward with a glancing right hook. Glancing front kick from Jason. Big left hook into a right hand lands for the Brazilian and he follows up with some more heavy shots as Sicilia just bites down on his mouthpiece and swings right back. Jason is clearly getting the better of these exchanges, though. Massive “LET’S GO JASON” chants as he lands with another combination to end the first round in control. 10-9 Rony Jason in an action-packed round.

2nd round and Sicilia comes out stalking forward, but he walks into a glancing counter right from Jason. Sicilia is really swinging wildly here with his hands down and everything. Jason is just about coming short with his counters at the minute as Sicilia continues to push forward. Good right hand from Sicilia but he can’t follow with anything significant. Nice body kick from Sicilia but Jason counters with a glancing right. Wild combination from Sicilia. The punches looked like they came from behind Sicilia’s waist there. Right hand connects to the body for Jason. Two minutes to go and Sicilia comes forward but eats a hard knee that wobbles him, and that leads to ANOTHER wild exchange with both men swinging leather and landing. Big one-two from Sicilia forces Jason back and then they touch gloves in a show of respect. Good counter right from Jason. Sicilia keeps going to the same combo, left hook-right hook, and Jason makes him pay with a sharp counter left that rocks him again. Beautiful left hand to the body from Jason and he pushes forward looking to replicate it, but Sicilia connects with a right hook of his own. Low kick follows but Jason counters with a BIG RIGHT that drops Sam, and he follows with some HUGE ELBOWS AND HAMMER FISTS for the stoppage! And the crowd go APESHIT.

That. Fight. Was. AWESOME. Both guys just came out and threw caution to the wind and started swinging heavy leather from the off, and it was clearly only a matter of time before one of them went down. Thankfully – I think the crowd would’ve lost their shit otherwise – it was Sicilia going down and so Jason picked up the win. Bit of a sloppy-ish showing from him as I expected him to outclass Sicilia and instead, he stooped to Sam’s level (not that Sicilia is a shitty fighter, but he is more of a brawler…) and beat him at his own game. But sloppy or not, that was a hell of a fight. Best of the show thus far.

Welterweight Fight: Demian Maia vs Rick Story

This was Maia’s second outing at 170lbs after a strange debut there that saw him beat Dong Hyun Kim after the Korean dislocated a rib in the opening minute. For Story this was a chance to get his career back on track after a couple of bad losses to Charlie Brenneman and Martin Kampmann sent him sliding way down the ladder in late 2011. The way the two matched up though, the smart money was probably on Maia to somehow get a submission if he could get Story to the ground, as off his back Story isn’t nearly as dangerous as he is standing or from on top.

Round One and Story comes out swinging, but Maia drops for a takedown right away. Story looks to defend it, but Maia stays on the single leg, driving through a body shot to get the takedown. He advances right away and looks to pass the legs, but Story tries to get his back to the cage. Maia turns though and looks to take the back, almost getting a hook in. Story works back to his feet, but Maia trips him right back down. Into side mount for Maia but Story again works to his feet. Really nice trip from Maia puts him back down and this time he takes the back as Rick looks to turn. One hook is in and the second one follows. Crowd are going crazy now. Maia looks for the choke and begins to soften him up with punches, and then it looks like he’s got the choke sunk. He can’t get the arm quite under the chin so instead he goes to a FACE CRANK and in a sick visual, he SQUEEZES BLOOD OUT OF STORY’S NOSE and Rick taps out there.

That was a phenomenal performance from Maia; his most impressive since his 2009 win over Chael Sonnen in fact. He just came out and went right for the takedown, no messing around with the stand-up, and once he had Story down and got a dominant position, Rick was TOAST. The submission was easily one of the best of 2012 too – I’ve seen it referred to as a rear naked torque, which sounds pretty awesome, but whatever the name, any time you squeeze blood from a dude’s nose you know it’s pretty damn cool. Maia is clearly a contender at 170lbs – but we’d find that out even more in his next fight. Of course, that’s another show!

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Phil Davis vs Wagner Prado

Davis and Prado had of course already faced off once in 2012 – on the August 4th Fox card – and that fight had gone to a No Contest when Prado took a nasty accidental eye poke. I was sort-of hoping they wouldn’t do an immediate rematch as Davis ought to be facing top ten fighters while Prado is more of a raw prospect, but once the fight was signed I ended up actually taking the upset, as Davis’s stand-up hadn’t looked great against Rashad Evans and in the opening minute of the first Prado fight where he’d seemed willing to trade with the Brazilian, and from what I’d seen of him, Wagner is a KILLER standing.

Fight begins and Prado is so over with this crowd it’s unbelievable. Dude is a fountain of charisma though. They circle around before Prado misses with a left high kick. Davis is perhaps the most ridiculous physical specimen in the UFC with his giant lats. Prado throws some jabs out that don’t really land, but he does shake off an attempt by Davis at closing the distance and tying up. Glancing left head kick from Prado. Big takedown from Davis as he ducks under a right hand and lands in half-guard. Prado looks for a kimura from the bottom, but Davis avoids it and looks to land some shots. Prado gets his back to the fence in an attempt to stand, but Davis keeps him down. Good job from Prado to scramble up for a second, but Davis keeps on him and gets an over/under to take the back. One hook in for Phil as Prado tries to shake him off, and he lands some punches for good measure. Prado does a good job of reversing and he pops up to his feet, but Davis quickly grabs him and hits a big slam down into north/south. Prado rolls, but takes some big right hands on the ground from Davis as he tries to get back up. Wagner works to his feet for a second but Davis brings him right back down and continues to land shots. Crowd are furious with this. Prado works to his feet again but Davis locks him up once more and throws him to the ground like a ragdoll. Davis is looking awesome here. Round ends with him in top position. Clear-cut 10-9 round for Phil Davis.

2nd round and Davis opens with a front kick to the body. Prado looks tentative now, clearly wary of the takedown. Big head kick is just about blocked by the Brazilian. Takedown attempt is blocked by Prado and he comes back with a body kick. Davis shoots again though and this time he gets deep on a single leg. Prado does a good job of fighting it off initially, but Davis stays on him like glue and drops into a low double leg to take the Brazilian down. Prado struggles and looks to get to his feet, but he can’t and Davis stays on top and pounds at the body. Good job from Prado to escape to his feet, but he eats a right hand on his way up and Davis stays firmly on him. Knees inside connect for Davis but they break off shortly after. Body kick glances for Prado. Both men whiff on some punches before Davis dives for a takedown and manages to get a single leg. Prado blocks initially but Davis slams him down. Half-guard this time and Davis passes into side mount and lands some elbows. It looks like he’s setting up for mount, but winds up in half-guard instead. He still manages to land some heavy elbows, and then looks for an arm triangle. It looks sunk, and Davis passes into side mount for good measure, but Prado somehow manages to survive and pop free! Big crowd pop for that but Davis grabs a front facelock and from there locks up a TIGHT anaconda choke to finally force the tapout and deflate the crowd completely.

Really one-sided fight in the end although it was fun to watch, as Davis just completely dominated Prado with his grappling, and never really gave him a chance to do anything. It was a mismatch if we’re frank and Prado probably should’ve been paired with someone lower down the ladder to begin his UFC career, but what can you do? Davis did look great though and I think he’s somehow become the forgotten man at 205lbs, and I’d love to see him make a run for the title this year. It’s easy to forget that the guy tapped out Alexander Gustafsson, for instance!

Welterweight Fight: Jon Fitch vs Erick Silva

Talk about an intriguing fight – Team Nogueira’s hot prospect Silva had blown through all his opposition in the UFC to this point and had most recently choked out top wrestler Charlie Brenneman with ease, and so he was due a step up and a step up he got. Sure, Fitch hadn’t fought in almost a year since being knocked out by Johny Hendricks, but he’s still one of the top Welterweights in the world and a match for anyone at 170lbs. I was taking Silva to win as it goes as I think he’s the top prospect in the world at 170lbs and Fitch seems on the downside of his career now, but for sure I was expecting a war.

First round and Silva looks totally nonchalant standing, like he doesn’t respect Fitch in the slightest. Big knee to the body from Silva but Fitch catches it and gets him down. Erick scrambles, but Fitch grabs the back in transition and takes him down with one hook in. Silva tries to stand but Fitch brings him back down and gets one hook in again. Erick manages to shake the hook off, but he can’t get Fitch off his back. One hook in again and it looks like Fitch has a body triangle. Silva stands back up and Fitch is almost in the lemur position now. Good punches from Fitch landing flush to the side of the face. Fitch doesn’t have the body triangle now. Fitch drags him back down, but Silva immediately works back up. Crowd are chanting loudly for Silva now. Standing arm triangle choke from Fitch and it looks tight but Silva slips free and then escapes the clinch to a loud pop. Front kick glances off Fitch’s jaw. Big overhand right connects for Silva and he follows by surprisingly clinching. He decides to separate but Fitch grabs hold of him again and forces him across the fence. Good reversal by Silva though and he pushes Fitch into the fence. Big elbow breaks off for Fitch. Spinning back kick to the body from Silva. Silva is hanging his hands by his waist here. Good shots land for both men and Silva grabs the plum to deliver some knees, but Fitch drops for a single leg. Erick blocks, but Fitch gets a double leg instead and gets him down. Good scramble allows Silva back to his feet. Fitch gets a bodylock though and tries to take the back again, transitioning into a rear waistlock where he lands some knees to the thighs. Suplex attempt is blocked but Fitch drags him down and gets the hooks in, taking the back properly now. Round ends before he can do anything with it, but it’s still clearly Fitch’s round, 10-9.

Second round and Silva is still hanging his hands pretty bad. Spinning backfist misses and Fitch ties up and then lands with a big uppercut. Takedown attempt is blocked by Silva but Fitch lands with another uppercut. Beautiful foot sweep from Silva plants Fitch face-first though and the Brazilian immediately spins and takes the back! No hooks yet but he ties up the right arm of Fitch and looks for a crucifix, but Fitch manages to break free and grabs a single leg. Silva stands but Fitch keeps hold of the ankle, only to take some NASTY hammer fists to the head. Fitch looks in trouble now as Silva drops to take the back again and lands some more big shots, but he still can’t get the hooks in. Fitch stands with Silva holding a rear waistlock, and they drive into the fence before separating. Big knee just misses for Silva after a brief exchange. Good right hand into a knee from Fitch but Silva answers with one of his own. Fitch forces him into the fence, and drops for another takedown. Silva defends with some elbows to the head. Crowd begin to boo randomly despite the fighters clearly working, and then Fitch misses a footsweep attempt and gives his back standing. This of course gets the crowd back into it as Silva trips him down and finally gets both hooks in! Fitch rolls, but Silva keeps the position and it looks like he has the choke sunk! Crowd go INSANE as Silva clamps down on the choke, but somehow Fitch survives. Holy shit is this guy difficult to choke. One minute to go and Erick gives up on the choke, and Fitch does a good job of freeing one hook. Silva looks to lock up the body triangle, but it’s too late and Fitch manages to turn into him. Big shots land for Fitch from the top with seconds to go and now Fitch takes Silva’s back! This is AWESOME. Armbar attempt from Fitch and it looks locked up, but Silva rolls over with it and ends the round stuck in an oma plata. Fantastic round. 10-9 Silva.

Third round and Fitch actually waves his hands to get the crowd going. Good right hand from Fitch sets up a clinch and he forces Silva to the fence and drags him down. Silva gives his back and he’s looking tired now. BIG PUNCHES connect for Fitch from an over/under position and then he takes the back with both hooks. Choke attempt from Fitch, but Silva defends and turns on his side, only to take some more punishing elbows and punches. Erick’s right arm is trapped by Fitch’s right leg here and he’s taking a BEATING. Armbar attempt from Fitch goes awry though and it allows Silva to slip free and grab a guillotine! He jumps to guard and really wrenches on it, but he can’t finish it and Fitch gives the thumbs up while punching to the body. Finally Silva gives it up, and Fitch postures up from the top to deliver some elbows. Armbar attempt is easily avoided by Fitch and he takes the back again and continues to land. Rear naked choke attempt again from Fitch but he can’t get it sunk in correctly and goes back to just pounding away. Silva manages to get to his feet, but Fitch stays on him with some knees while holding a rear waistlock, and then he drags him down again. More shots from Fitch and he’s got both hooks in now. Big shots land and you could make a case for stopping this as Silva turns to mount and continues to get beaten on. More punches and elbows connect for Fitch and Silva is barely defending. Doesn’t look like Fitch quite has the energy to flurry enough for a stoppage though. Seconds to go and referee Marc Goddard warns Silva that he has to defend, but Fitch is TIRED and isn’t landing as much now. Silva manages to work his way out of the back door, but as he stands Fitch grabs a front choke right before the buzzer sounds. Got to be a 10-8 round for Jon Fitch.

Judges score it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Fitch. Right decision but pretty insane scores in my eyes as nobody gave Fitch a 10-8 third, and I mean if that isn’t a 10-8 round I don’t know what the hell is. Tremendous fight though as Silva came in with a ton of momentum and Fitch just refused to let the young lion run over him, putting on arguably the best performance of his post-GSP UFC career to absolutely smash the Brazilian in the third round after weathering quite a storm there in the second. You could literally see the spirit leaking out from Erick in the third as Fitch continued to beat on him. It’ll probably be good for him in the long run as he’s seen the next level now and knows what he has to do to get there, but taking a beating like that can’t have been nice. As for Fitch, it’s hard to believe that this would be his final UFC victory, but c’est la vie. Total FOTYC level stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs Fabio Maldonado

While this wasn’t anywhere near as good a fight on paper as Teixeira vs. Rampage would’ve been, it was still intriguing as you could argue that despite the hype train behind Glover, Maldonado is actually better than all of his previous opponents bar perhaps one or two, particularly standing. With that in mind I figured Teixeira would take him down and look for a submission – a lot of people don’t realize Glover’s an Abu Dhabi veteran and is a great grappler as well as a kickboxer – rather than risk standing with the dangerous Maldonado.

Fight begins and Teixeira stalks forward and wobbles Maldonado with a BIG LEFT HOOK right away. Another one drops Fabio and Teixeira takes the back and begins to land some heavy shots. Full mount now for Teixeira and he lands some heavy blows as Maldonado covers up. Big elbows from Glover and he does a good job of retaining mount as Maldonado tries to escape. Maldonado is in DEEP TROUBLE here. He’s taking a ridiculous amount of elbows. Incredibly brutal right hands land FLUSH to the face but somehow Maldonado eats them right up. This dude is tough as leather. More elbows land for Teixeira and Fabio’s face is badly busted up. Arm triangle choke follows and it looks sunk as Teixeira passes into side mount, but he’s really close to the cage which makes it difficult to finish, and Maldonado survives. Glover pushes off the fence though for a better position and it looks like a wrap. Somehow though Maldonado survives, and Teixeira decides to give up and hop back to full mount. And of course, the punishment continues as Teixeira lands more heavy elbows and punches. Somehow though Maldonado gets a reversal and escapes to his feet! He looks like he’s a drunk on ice though, stumbling all around the place. Glover closes in with a flurry, but Maldonado manages to slow him up with a left. Teixeira comes back with a right hand that sends Maldonado stumbling again though. He closes in and continues to flurry and it looks like the fence is the only thing keeping Maldonado standing. Somehow though he fires back with a HUGE LEFT HOOK that snaps Glover’s head to the side and wobbles him! Fabio follows with two more, but he looks too hurt to really do much and the round ends with a Teixeira right hand to set up a takedown. Incredible ending but good lord, what a beating in that round. 10-7 in fact as it was far, far worse than the clear 10-8 in Fitch/Silva!

Into the 2nd round, unbelievably. Takedown comes right away for Teixeira and he looks to take the back before Maldonado scrambles to his feet. Teixeira quickly drags him back down though and looks to secure back control. Glover decides to let him back up, and Fabio swings with the left hook, but he can’t land this time although he does catch Glover with a left to the body. Single leg from Teixeira and he gets Maldonado on his back again before quickly securing full back mount. Fabio rolls but only into full mount and Teixeira continues where he left off earlier, landing heavy punches and elbows. Fabio’s face just looks absolutely destroyed at this point. Good hip escape from Maldonado and he gets to half-guard. Action slows down now as Teixeira works to pass, and he gets into side mount and lands a couple of hard hammer fists. Brutal elbows land for Glover but he finds himself in half-guard again and at this point he’s slowed down and quite understandably so. Just over a minute to go now. More elbows land for Teixeira before referee Mario Yamasaki calls a stand-up. Maldonado is incredibly wobbly as he gets up and Mario calls time to get the doctor to check him. Fabio claims he’s fine but good lord, he’s clearly not. Somehow they let it continue though. Scary moment follows as Teixeira backs Fabio up and lands a right, and it appears that Maldonado is using the fence to work out where he is. Pair of brutal left hooks land for Glover and he follows with a right. One-two wobbles Fabio to end the round as he again appears to be using the fence to keep himself upright. 10-9 Teixeira.

Between rounds the doctor checks Fabio over again and this time he decides to stop the fight there. Maldonado is FURIOUS but it was clearly the right decision as he was looking like the walking dead there at the end of the second round. Tremendous heart displayed by Maldonado though as he took one of the worst beatings in UFC history in that first round and somehow hung in there to finish the second. Gotta respect that. As for Teixeira, he did what he had to do in devastating fashion. People knocked on his cardio, but COME ON. Anyone would gas with the amount of shots he was landing in the first round and you can’t really prepare for a guy being able to take the amount of punishment that Maldonado did as most fighters would’ve been stopped by that onslaught in like two minutes. Entertaining fight to watch but by the end it was beginning to slip into the realm of perverse entertainment so good on the doctor for stopping it when he did.

Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Dave Herman

As I mentioned previously, this was put together on late notice after the rest of the card fell apart, and personally I was surprised to see Nogueira back in there as he’d pulled out of UFC 149 just a couple of months prior due to the arm injury he suffered at the hands of Frank Mir not being fully healed. Indeed, he didn’t look to be in the best shape at the weigh-in and the word was he wasn’t 100% and had only taken the fight because it was in Rio. Opponent Herman was coming off a pair of knockout losses to Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson, but seemed confident coming in as he claimed – ludicrously, it must be added – that BJJ doesn’t work and that he’s impossible to submit. My prediction was Nogueira, but I was certainly worried due to how he looked physically.

First round gets underway and Herman opens with a body kick as Nogueira comes forward. They clinch and Herman hits a HUGE THROW down into Nog’s half-guard. Sweep attempt from Nogueira but Herman does a good job of keeping top position and he stands up, leaving Nog on his back. Nog gets back up and we’re back to standing. Good combination from Nogueira backs Herman up. Right hook lands for Herman and he breaks a clinch with a knee and follows with a pair of body kicks. Nogueira catches a leg though and forces Herman into the cage. Good punches from Nogueira from inside the clinch but Herman separates with a glancing knee. Leg kick connects for Herman. Good punches from Nogueira back Herman up and pop the crowd. Left hook over the top from Nog. Hard right hand lands for Nogueira and Herman seems to be dropping his hands a bit. He’s standing right in front of Nogueira. They clinch up and Nog forces him into the fence, but they break soon after. Crowd are chanting loudly for Nog. Good right hand connects for Nogueira. Body kick answers for Herman. He follows with another one too. Into the clinch again but Herman’s doing a good job of preventing the takedown. He uses a whizzer to avoid the takedown and they separate again. Good one-two from Nogueira. Head kick is blocked by the Brazilian. Round ends with a short left hook from Nogueira. Joe Rogan mentions that Herman has a weird grin on his face. More on that later. 10-9 Nogueira.

2nd round and Herman comes out with this odd stance, stretching his right arm out towards Nogueira with his left in an odd cocked position. Big left hand from Nogueira drops Herman hard and the Brazilian gets on top in half-guard and quickly passes into side mount. Americana attempt from Nogueira and the crowd are going bananas, but it doesn’t look like he can get it into the correct position and Herman survives. Herman tries to use his legs to get free, but finds himself mounted and then Nogueira takes the back with both hooks. He transitions into the armbar and it looks locked up, but Herman uses his left leg to push at the head in defense. Oma plata now from Nogueira and he looks to use that to get a footlock, but Herman manages to slip free and escape to his feet! To give him his dues that was excellent submission defense. His standing stance is still odd though and he eats another hard left. Into the clinch but Herman hits a trip into half-guard. Nog goes for a sweep but Herman avoids and stands. Herman looks really tired now though. Good punches land for Nogueira. Lunging knee misses for Herman and he eats a left hand for his troubles. Trip from Nog puts him on top in half-guard and he goes to full mount and locks up an armbar. This time it looks closer. Herman grabs his hands together to avoid and tries to use his legs to get out, but this time Nogueira separates the arms, extends the arm fully and HERMAN TAPS. Cue MADNESS from the crowd.

Well, for a short notice fight that was pretty great, especially with Nogueira turning back the clock again to get a beautiful submission over a guy who had never been tapped before. Regarding the “weird look” on Herman’s face and some of the odd moves he was making, he did test positive for marijuana post-fight so maybe he was stoned, who knows? Part of me wanted Nogueira to retire after this fight as it would’ve been a poetic ending for the guy and lord knows he has no more to prove, but he’s chosen to continue on and who am I to doubt him? I’m just glad we’re getting to witness a living legend of the sport still in action. Great, heart-warming stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Anderson Silva vs Stephan Bonnar

Well, while this wasn’t exactly the most intriguing fight for Anderson Silva at this point in his career, I didn’t mind it as it was such a short-notice fight and the UFC played their cards perfectly really, never pushing Bonnar as the mythical “perfect fighter to beat Anderson!” and rather selling it as a Rocky type deal – a guy on the verge of retirement who had never really gotten to the very top level taking one last chance at greatness against one of the best fighters in the world and of all time. The obvious outcome here was that Silva would likely destroy Bonnar and honestly I couldn’t even see any avenue for Bonnar to win, but I guess anything can happen in a fight.

Fight begins and Bonnar pushes forward, forcing Silva to backpedal and slip. This allows Stephan to go for a single leg, forcing Silva into the fence, but he can’t get the champion down. Couple of shots land inside for Bonnar and Silva answers with a knee to the midsection. Bonnar keeps trying for the takedown, but he still can’t drag Anderson to the ground. They continue to muscle for position in the clinch and Bonnar manages to land a couple of short punches for good measure. Bonnar keeps trying for the takedown, but Silva reverses the position and looks to exit. He can’t though and Stephan forces him back into the fence. Finally they break off and in a weird moment, Silva retreats and stands with his back to the cage, inviting Bonnar on. Stephan obliges and lands a combo as Silva hangs his hands and just shrugs it right off. Spinning back kick from Bonnar but Anderson simply sidesteps without a care in the world. Unbelievable. And he follows by going back into the same spot! Bonnar looks confused and then clinches again, before dropping to the ground with a single leg attempt. Silva defends and lands an elbow to the head, then a right uppercut as Bonnar stands. Pair of hard shots land flush for Bonnar on the exit but Silva totally shrugs them off. Wild combo follows but Silva uses head movement to avoid with his hands by his waist. This is ridiculous. They clinch again and this time Silva controls Bonnar’s right arm and uses it to trip him down. Bonnar pops right back up…but walks into a HUGE KNEE TO THE BODY that folds him up, and Anderson pounces on him to finish him off with some strikes on the ground.

What can you say? Fight was just as one-sided as I expected it to be and it was another virtuoso showing from Silva too, as he allowed Bonnar to hit him and clinch with him and he *still* couldn’t do a thing against him, and once he spotted a little opening, boom, it was over. The finish was sick too when you consider Bonnar had never been stopped via anything but a cut before. Simply put, Anderson Silva is one of a kind and there will probably never be another fighter like him again, even if this fight was a bit of a gimme for him. Post-fight he comes out with a classic quote that sort-of sums things up, too – “I’m not the best. I just believe that I can do things that people think are impossible”. And I think we’ll end there.

-Highlight reel rolls to end our night in Brazil.

Final Thoughts….

This was one of the best UFC shows of 2012 I thought – probably second only to UFC 146 – as we got a card full of fun fights, with none of them outright sucking and tons of cool finishes, particularly on the main card with Maia, Davis and Nogueira’s submissions, and of course Silva’s TKO of Bonnar. Fight of the night was clearly Fitch vs. Silva – a legit contender for Fight of the Year – but Jason vs. Sicilia was outstanding too and I liked Teixeira vs. Maldonado, Madadi vs. Marcello and Massaranduba vs. Tibau a lot too. Thumbs way up, particularly if you’re a big fan of the Brazilian MMA scene like myself.

Best Fight: Silva vs. Fitch
Worst Fight: Moraes vs. Forte

Overall Rating: ****1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: