UFC 153 is finally here and although the change looks drastically different from when it was first announced (Aldo vs. Koch, Teixiera vs. Rampage, Belcher vs. Belfort then Aldo vs. Edgar) the card has come together and the Best Pound for Pound fighter in the world, stepped up to save the card. UFC 153 should deliver a lot of exciting moments, especially for the Brazilian fans in attendance. UFC 153 boasts at least one Brazilian fighter in each fight. Check out our picks below and feel free to leave your picks in the comments section.
Welterweight Fight: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story
Brian: Rick Story was on his way up the UFC ladder in a big way, and then a surprising loss to Charlie Brenneman was followed by defeat at the hands of Martin Kampmann. Now…he’s trying to retool his game. He’s a good wrestler that lets too many fights go the distance, and while I go back and forth as to who will win…I’m going to settle on Maia via 3rd round submission.
Brendan: Tough fight to call, Story’s got major power and solid wrestling but Maia’s BJJ is a whole different story altogether. We will also need to see how Maia makes the cut to WW. I think Story grinds out a majority decision.
Jordan: Although it didn’t last long, Maia looked good in his debut at 170 pounds. Story is a strong wrestler, but Maia has shown good defense against better wrestlers at 185. I see Maia outpointed Story and winning this one unanimously.
Mark: Unlike some, I’m high on Demian Maia’s prospects at 170. Fighting in his own backyard will certainly help Saturday too, but I think Story’s pressuring style plays well into Maia’s strength. Maia was able to hold his own against larger opponents like Chris Weidman and Mark Muñoz when it came to MMA grappling and I think he’ll be able to eventually clinch with Story or even sweep from off his back to take dominant position and work his BJJ wizardry. I like Maia via 2nd rd RNC.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
Brian: In a rematch from an eye poke 2 months ago, Davis and Prado will do their best to make this one count. Prado will try to finish it, and Davis needs to get this one to the ground….fast. The Brazilians, and especially the Nogueiras, seemed to figure out how to stop Davis’ takedowns, so look for Prado to do the same. Prado in the 2nd via TKO.
Brendan: Should be a great fight, Davis will have to find a way through Prado’s superior striking abilities to get him on his back, while Prado will look to be the first man to stop Davis via vicious TKO in the first round. Look for Davis to play this one safe and use his takedowns to nullify Prado for a 15 min dump-n-hump. Good time to refill your drinks…
Jordan: Wagner Prado is a great prospect and we are all disappointed when their last fight ended in a no-contest. Before losing to Rashad Evans in January, Davis was a hot prospect in the 205-pound division. The former Penn State wrestler takes this fight to the ground and grinds out the win. While this won’t be the most exciting fight, Davis picks up the unanimous decision.
Mark: Hopefully this one has the chance to play out. We were all disappointed when an errant eye poke ended the first go round between these two before the action even began. Prado is a great prospect with plenty of cage experience outside of the UFC, but Phil Davis is already a top tier fighter. His striking still has room for improvement, but his wrestling base is so strong that he should be able to smother the Brazilian once he closes the distance. I think the Brazilian fans will be disappointed in this one Saturday. I’ll take Phil Davis by Unanimous Decisio
Welterweight Fight: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva
Brian: Erick Silva is fast fast fast. But Jon Fitch is at an inflection point in his career. He’s going to have to hang it up or head up to the top in spectacular fashion. I don’t think he can hang with a guy like Silva. Silva via TKO in the 1st.
Brendan: Make sure your drinks are filled for this one because I don’t see it lasting long. Silva is a dangerous striker with wicked speed and an even better ground game. Fitch had trouble with Penn before getting knocked out of contention by Johnny Hendricks, so look for him to try and enforce his old ways. I don’t see this ending well for Fitch; I think Silva takes this by T/KO in the first round.
Jordan: Silva has a very bright future, and if he isn’t a top ten WW yet, a win will propel him into the top 10. Silva is fast and I see him out-striking Fitch. Fitch obviously will want to take this fight to the ground and wrestle his way to victory, but I don’t see him being able to keep Silva down. Give me Silva via 2nd round TKO.
Mark: It’s amazing how one punch can alter a fighter’s career. Going into his last fight, Jon Fitch was listed as probably the #2 Welterweight in the world. Johny Hendricks’ left hand burst that bubble and now Fitch has taken a precipitous plunge in the rankings. The UFC did him no favors by matching him against rising star Erick Silva either. Silva looked very solid against a strong wrestler in Charlie Brenneman and his striking is certainly more diverse than Fitch’s. I see Fitch winning a round, but I like Silva’s game and see bigger things for him down the road. I’ll take Silva by Unanimous Decision.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Glover Teixeira vs. Fabio Maldonado
Brian: Glover Teixeira is a bad man. And Fabio Maldonado is a little unlucky. Lucky for Rampage, he pulled out of this fight, because it would have been bad for him. Teixeira by TKO in the first.
Brendan: I like Maldonado’s style of working his opponents with body shots to setup the big hooks and uppercuts, but with what I’ve seen from Teixeira guys don’t last more than a punch or two from that range – regardless of their professional boxing experience or granite chins…this guy brings everything he has, and then some more. I like Teixeira in this one and I think it ends with a slugfest. Teixeira by TKO in the 1st.
Jordan: Teixieira looked great in his first UFC fight against Kyle Kingsbury at UFC 146 back in May. Maldonado is coming off a two fight losing streak that includes a loss to Kingsbury. Maldonado has no business in this fight, but he stepped up and you have to respect him for that. Glover is on the fast track in the 205 lbs division and I see him one or two fights away from a title shot (especially if the top guys in the division don’t want to fight him). Give me Glover by 1st round submission.
Mark: Based on his reputation, you’d think Glover Teixeira is the scariest dude on the planet. No one wants to fight him. He’s got 1 UFC fight under his belt, but there is no question about his abilities. Maldonado has an incredible chin and fantastic boxing, but I like Teixeira to show off his grappling chops here. I think he’ll get a takedown early and after landing some stout ground and pound, grab and arm and slap on an arm bar. It’ll be a clinical performance and will only further his reputation. Teixeira by 1st rd arm bar.
Heavyweight Fight: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman
Brian: Dave Herman didn’t look too hot in his last bout against Roy Nelson, and he looked exhausted in the second round against Stefan Struve. Granted, those guys are some of the top fighters in the heavyweight division, Big Nog is not a step down in competition. Last time Big Nog fought in Rio, he put Brendan Schaub to sleep. Second verse, same as the first. Nogueira via KO in the 1st.
Brendan: After what happened in his last fight with Mir and despite Herman’s cries that he’s never been tapped, I think Big Nog’s got something to prove. I see him using his elite boxing to get inside on Herman for the takedown, working to a dominant position and slapping on an arm bar…old school PRIDE style.
Jordan: When in Brazil, Big Nog knows how to rise to the occasion and I see that happening again. The big question will be, how has he recovered from the injury he suffered last December against Frank Mir. Big Nog doesn’t have a ton of fights left in his career, but he will give the Brazilian fans something to cheer for, give me Big Nog by 2nd Round KO.
Mark: The last time Minotauro fought in Rio, he looked outstanding against Brendan Schaub. I don’t think Herman will be any more of a challenge for the former champ. Nogueira should dominate the standup, but I expect him to show a glimpse of his former glory days by taking the fight to the mat and finishing with an arm bar from mount. Give me Minotauro via 2nd rd arm bar.
Light Heavyweight Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar
Brian: Anderson Silva is fast and elusive for a middleweight. At light heavyweight, he’s probably untouchable for someone not named Machida. This one will end in Round 2, simply because that’s when Anderson wants it to end. Silva via TKO in the second.
Brendan: I love the story line for Bonnar, but I just don’t see him being able to out strike the Spider. Anderson will have to finish Bonnar in this one and I think he does it in striking fashion with a TKO sometime in the 1st round.
Jordan: A ton of respect has to go out to Anderson Silva for stepping up to save UFC 153, and although Stephan Bonnar is going to take a beating, he did step up to save the fight and take a nice pay day. I have been previewing this fight in my head, and I can’t see a way this fight ends in a Bonnar victory. I have the Brazilians going 5-6 on the main card and this fight will leave them happy when Anderson Silva scores a 3rd Round TKO.
Mark: While this fight makes little sense to the PPV viewing population, his presence on this card will ensure that the Brazilians will be turning up in droves cash in hand to watch their favorite son put on a show. I love Bonnar for taking this fight, but he’s not quick enough to catch or evade Silva. I foresee the champ taking his time with dominating striking without pushing too hard for a quick finish. If the fight goes beyond five minutes, it will be because Silva allows it. With that, I’ll take the Spider with another 2nd rd KO and the resultant cheers will blow the roof off the stadium.
Submission of the Night
Brian: Gleison Tibau
Brendan: Big Nog (arm bar)
Jordan: Glover Teixiera
Mark: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Knock out of the Night
Brian: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Brendan: Erick Silva
Jordan: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Mark: Anderson Silva
Fight of the Night
Brian: Demian Maia vs. Rick Story
Brendan: Fabio Maldonado vs. Glover Teixeira
Jordan: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar.
Mark: Diego Brandao vs. Joey Gambino
Brian (99-78) – Co-host of the MMANonstop Podcast and author of the series “The Book On…” exclusively at 220.127.116.11/~bchurch, follow him at twitter.com/bchurchin
Brendan (97-80) – Examines the Top 5 fighters in each weight class and is featured exclusively on 18.104.22.168/~bchurch. Follow him at twitter.com/bchurchin48
Jordan (109-68) – Runs the MMANonstop twitter feed and co-host of the MMANonstop Podcast, follow him at twitter.com/nonstopmma
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Brendan is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purple belt and boxing practitioner who has followed all things MMA since watching the first UFC event over 20 years ago. In addition to his professional career, Brendan is currently an MBA student at Montclair State University who enjoys spending time with his wife Meredith and their dog Cha'lie when he's not training.
Follow Brendan on Twitter @bchurchin48 and check out all his articles exclusively at MMANonstop.com.