On April 7, 2007 Matt Serra scored the biggest upset in Mixed Martial Arts history when he beat Georges St. Pierre to become the UFC Welterweight champion. No one thought Serra could win and people laughed at the idea of him being in a title fight. I know because I was one of those people. In all my years of watching MMA, I had never dismissed a fighter’s chance of victory until that night. 5 years, 6 months and 7 days later, Stefan Bonnar will assume the role of a hopeless underdog when he fights Anderson Silva in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
-Rick Story vs. Demian Maia
This bout will consist of wrestling vs. BJJ with some limited striking mixed in. We could not tell much from Maia’s last fight, which was his welterweight debut. He body looked sucked in on the scale last time out and hopefully he made the proper adjustments. This fight will ultimately be about control and Maia’s world class ground game will be enough to go the distance.
The Pick: Demian Maia by decision.
-Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado
The name of the game in this fight is unfinished business. In their previous bout, Prado was unable to continue as result of an accidental eye poke from Davis. Prado will be aggressive from bell to bell but the tactician in Davis will use his improving stand up game in order secure the ‘W’.
The Pick: Phil Davis by decision.
-Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva
Unless Silva finishes Fitch early, this will be an incredibly boring fight. Fitch is the favorite, and rightfully so. However, Silva’s smooth transitions on the ground will cause Fitch to be more active in top position than he normally is. I smell upset.
The Pick: Erick Silva via split decision.
-Fabio Maldonado vs. Glover Teixeira
All the hype in the light heavyweight division is on Glover Teixeria. The forecast of his future world title encounters is well founded but this will be his more important bout to date. All eyes are on him and he needs to not only win, but win in an impressive fashion in order to keep the hype train moving forward. Fabio Maldonado will present some serious challenges but Teixeria is just too well rounded to be derailed right now.
The Pick: Glover Teixeira via TKO due to punches in the 2nd round.
-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dave Herman
This will be Nogueira’s first fight since his arm breaking loss to Frank Mir. The former Pride Heavyweight champion is a heartfelt favorite of the mixed martial arts faithful and is truly one of the all-time greats. That being said, he is shopworn and his diminishing skill is a serious detriment to his career and health. Dave Herman is a big, powerful and tough middle of the road heavyweight who would not have stood a chance against Nogueira five years earlier. In 2012, his stand up capability could means lights out for his opponent.
Nogueira’s biggest weapon in this fight is experience and he has forgotten more about Brazilian jiu-jitsu than more people will ever know. He has battled back from adversity more than most and he will have to do so again in order to get past Herman. Nogueira is easier to rock these days, so expect him to weather an early storm and catch “Pee Wee” in a submission late in the third round.
The Pick: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via submission in the 3rd round
-Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar
The normal analysis of a prize fight is to dissect how the combatants highlight their attributes, apply their strengths and improve upon and or expose weaknesses. There is almost nothing to break down because Anderson Silva is better than Stefan Bonnar in every facet of fighting. The only advantage Bonnar has is that he will be the larger fighter in the octagon. This will not be much of an advantage because Silva’s body will be a lot healthier at 205 lbs instead of his cutting to his normal destination of 185 lbs.
Bonnar’s only has two chances at victory. The first is to keep Silva at the end of his jab enroute to a decision. Silva’s impeccable speed and pin point accuracy makes this a fruitless endeavor. Takedowns are out of the question because his wrestling is not at the level of a Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson. Bonnar always falters to top flight opposition and Silva is the best of the best.
His second and last chance is to use his jab to set up the mother of all hail mary shots to the jaw that sends the middleweight champion crashing to the mat in a stream of unconsciousness. Again, very hard to do considering Anderson Silva’s head movement rivals Neo from the Matrix. But hey, that’s why it’s called a hail mary.
The Pick: Anderson Silva via TKO in the 2nd round