UFC 153 staff picks

Thanks for stopping by and reading our analysis and predictions for “UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar” which takes place Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Personally, I feel this is one of the best cards the UFC has had in some time. The main card is absolutely stacked with talent and some of these guys have a lot riding on the line this weekend.

Phil Davis will try to protect his status as a top light heavyweight in a rematch against knockout artist Wagner Prado. Perennial top-10 welterweight Jon Fitch will try to get back on track after getting knocked out by Johny Hendricks last December, but will certainly have his hands full against the very talented Erick Silva, who really should still be undefeated inside the UFC (has one DQ).

With back-to-back losses enigmatic heavyweight Dave Herman will try to save his job in the biggest fight of his career as he faces the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who is coming back for the first time since having his arm mangled by Frank Mir. Will Big Nog be able to “make jiu-jitsu work” against Pee Wee? Or will his boxing be enough in and of itself to stop Herman?

Glover Teixiera will try to keep the hype training rolling against boxing specialist Fabio Maldonado. Demian Maia and Rick Story will both try to pick up their second win in a row so they can keep climbing the middleweight ladder. And last but most certainly not least, Stephan Bonnar will try to shock the world, and possibly himself, by beating the consensus number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Anderson Silva.

Light Heavyweight: Anderson Silva (32-4) vs. Stephan Bonnar (14-7)

Odds: Silva -1250 vs. Bonnar +750

JACK BRATCHER: Bonnar has won his last three fights, two in 2010 against Krzysztof Soszynski (TKO) and Igor Pokrajac (decision), and one last year against Kyle Kingsbury (decision). If you haven’t taken a look at Anderson Silva’s record lately, I recommend it — everyone should do that just to get a better appreciation for what this man has accomplished. Silva only fights twice a year. Earlier this year he scored the second round TKO over Chael Sonnen. In 2011 he TKO’d Okami and KO’d Belfort. In 2010 he decisioned Maia and KO’d Griffin… Bonnar throws a lot of hooks and Silva’s straight punches are going to meet their target faster. Bonnar seems to be relying on his ability to take punishment and superstition going into this bout. He’s been talking a lot about “all the signs” pointing to a massive upset. It really would be a Rocky-esque story if he won, but let’s be real people. He’s going to get destroyed. This is a fight and all the number 13’s and black cats crossing the street aren’t going to help Bonnar one iota when Anderson Silva stands across from him inside the Octagon in front of thousands upon thousands of Brazilian fans cheering him on in Rio de Janeiro. Silva is too fast, too slick, and although Bonnar has never been legitimately stopped in a fight — this will be the first. A bigger Anderson Silva just means “more power to knock you out by” (Yoda voice). Silva by first round knockout. — By the way, this is a three round fight.

JAY CEE: Anderson Silva wins via TKO

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS:  All of the promotional releases for this fight keep harping on the fact that Stephan Bonnar has “nothing to lose”. For a lot of guys that would loosely translate to showing up for the sake of collecting a paycheck. I don’t think Bonnar is one of those guys though, and he really is a rare breed when it comes to fearlessness. Does he win this fight? Absolutely not; but this is definitely going to be a contender for fight of the night. The more damage Bonnar takes the more invigorated and relentless he becomes, which bodes well for a matchup that should see him getting hit hard and hit often. Don’t be surprised if Bonnar can find a way to make it through at least two rounds before Silva can put him away. Silva by TKO.

BRIAN FURBY: Anderson Silva

KELVIN HUNT: This should be a fun fight. Bonnar can takes lots of punishment and has never been finished. Silva will have the speed advantage. If Bonnar stands with Silva and attempts to put on a show…he’s going to sleep. If he fights smart and crowds Silva against the cage and takes him down…which I believe he may be able to do…it’ll be interesting for a little while, but every round starts on the feet and Bonnar will be put to sleep.

DENNY HODGE: Stephan Bonnar will face the same problems that Forrest Griffin encountered against Anderson Silva. Despite being bigger and stronger, Bonnar will have problems landing anything significant against Silva. Silva’s speed will offset the size and strength of Bonnar, and force him to take chances in order to close the gap to score inside with punches. Even if Bonnar decides to try out his ground game in this one, the same dangers await him as he wades in range of Silva’s explosive counter game. Silva will control the pace and the range of this one from the bell and once Bonnar gets careless trying to close distance, the champion will launch a brutal attack that will end this one in devastating fashion on his home turf. Silva by first-round TKO.

Heavyweight: Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 1 NC) vs. Dave Herman (21-4)

Odds: Nogueira -300 vs. Herman +240

JACK BRATCHER: I heard a guy on a very well known podcast recently say that Dave Herman has very technical striking. I almost spewed my monitor with the juice I was drinking. Herman’s career has been an enigma, and while it is true his striking has gotten better, it is still fairly rudimentary. What he does have is creativity, power and heart — and a whole lotta luck (that’s not a bad thing). I’ve been following Dave’s career for years and have watched his progression very closely. Go back on this site and you will find interviews with Dave from way back. This fight is do or die for Dave. He’s lost his last two bouts via knockout and it’s the first time in his career he’s experienced back to back losses. Hell, the guy was on a 15 fight win streak (all stoppages) before he even signed up with a gym to start regularly training. He has a TON of natural talent. Dave’s problem has always been motivation. He has been kicked out of one gym I know because of that very reason. Nogueira is old. I don’t believe for a second he is 36. He may very well be 45. How will he perform after having his arm ripped off by Frank Mir last December — this is his first fight back. Remember before that he knocked out Brendan Schaub. Big Nog has some good boxing and good power. His boxing is MUCH better than Dave’s and I think he’s going to take “Pee Wee” out via TKO. Dave doesn’t believe he can be submitted, so it would be poetic if Nog could submit him, but I think he will take him out via knockout (unless Dave pulls a rabbit out of his lucky hat). If Dave has been taking this very serious (yeah right!) he could pull of the upset but I’m not betting on that. Nog wins.

JAY CEE: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira wins via TKO

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: This year alone Dave Herman’s already been thrown to Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson. And now he faces the legend Nogueira in Brazil. If you’ve ever walked into a bar in downtown Chicago wearing a Packers jersey and proceeded to curse the name of Mike Ditka’s mother then, congratulations, you are one of the few people who understands the situation Herman currently faces, both in terms of hostile environment and the ensuing beat down he will be on the receiving end of. It’s entirely up to Big Nog whether he ends the fight with his striking or with a submission, but either way it will end; it will end quickly; and it will end with Nogueira’s hand being raised. Nogueira by 1st round KO or submission.

BRIAN FURBY: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

KELVIN HUNT: Nogueira is my favorite fighter of all time. I can’t pick against him here as he looked really good in the Mir fight before allowing his pride to cloud his judgment and go for the submission win instead of finishing him with strikes. Herman will have the speed advantage and unless he gets Nog out of there early….Nogueira will wear him down and finish in late in the fight. Nogueira via TKO since Herman has been finished via TKO in back-to-back fights.

DENNY HODGE: Dave Herman is a freak athlete who has yet to reach his full potential in his fight career. Nogueira has proven time and time again that he is as tough as they come and he will need it early. Herman will land some big shots early with a strong start. Look for Nogueira to counter effectively and expect big exchanges in the pocket. It’s just a matter of time until the fight hits the mat and that’s where “Big Nog” will put this one away in the second round. Nogueira by submission.

Light Heavyweight: Glover Teixeira (18-2) vs. Fabio Maldonado (18-5)

Odds: Teixeira -360 vs. Maldonado +290

JACK BRATCHER: We’ve got two 32-year-old Brazilians. Both guys have big power, both guys have 18 wins. Maldonado is coming off two decision losses; first to Kyle Kingsbury last year and Igor Pokrajac earlier this year. Props to Maldonado taking the fight, because it seems very few people wanted to get in the Octagon with Teixeira. There’s a lot of expectation and eyes on Teixeira right now and on paper he wins this fight fairly easily. Teixeira is a BJJ black belt, Maldonado is a brown belt. Teixeira should take this via stoppage.

JAY CEE: Glover Teixeira wins via Submission

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS: Teixeira doesn’t have the same technical striking pedigree as Maldonado, but he is faster, stronger, and the owner of a John Hackleman-trained right hand. Teixeira will most likely play this one safe and take Maldonado out of his comfort zone and onto his back. Maldonado is no slouch on the ground; however, he’s at his best when he can use his strong boxing to win fights. If Teixeira gets the finish in this one it’ll come by taking Maldonado down and dropping blows from the top. Teixeira by decision.

BRIAN FURBY: Glover Teixeira

KELVIN HUNT: This should be a fun fight. Maldonado has good striking, but the edge in power goes to Teixeria. Teixeira is really aggressive and should be able to find Maldonado’s chin early and often. Teixeira also has the edge on the ground. I’m interested in seeing how Teixeria looks cardio wise in the second and third rounds…but it may not get that far. Teixeira via submission.

DENNY HODGE: The escalating hype of Glover Teixeira has grown to even higher levels since a couple of big names in the UFC turned down fights with him. He now has an opponent and fans that aren’t familiar with Teixeira will get a chance to see why some fighters don’t want to meet him in the octagon. Maldonado is a dangerous foe on the feet, but will struggle mightily once Teixeira decides to put him on his back. This fight should start with fireworks, and it will end with them as well. Look for Teixeira to get takedowns at will, and from there he will go to work with submission attempts, but it will be the steady dose of ground-and-pound that will extend the win streak of Teixeira to 17. Teixeira by TKO.

Welterweight: Jon Fitch (23-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Erick Silva (14-2, 1 NC)

Odds: Fitch +110 vs. Silva -140

JACK BRATCHER: Jon Fitch is coming off a 12-second KO loss to Johny Hendricks last December. One has to wonder about his motivation level at this point. He’s 34-years-old, he got a title shot way back in 2008 against Georges St-Pierre and lost the decision. After that he won five straight bouts — all decisions. He fought to a draw with B.J. Penn last year, then had the KO loss to Hendricks. I think Fitch has plateaued. Working with the same camp all these years has brought him a long way, but there could also be a danger in that if you don’t ever get any other looks. But what do I know. Erick Silva is part of that new breed. He’s very well-rounded and his only real loss was a decision back in 2006. Inside the UFC he’s submitted Luis Ramos, and most recently, knocked out Charlie Brenneman. His lone loss in the Octagon was a DQ loss to Carlo Prater back in January for strikes to the back of the head. Fitch’s ONLY hope is to take Silva down and lay on him. Not gonna happen. Silva wins via stoppage, probably a knockout.

JAY CEE: Erik Silva wins via TKO

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS:  While I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Jon Fitch return to form and grind out a decision, I’m not confident in picking a heavily worn, oft injured, almost 35 year old, fighter to revert back to his old self. Silva’s ability to land leg kicks in volume could be huge in this one; expect him to target Jon Fitch’s damaged knee early and often and capitalize on the shopworn veteran’s slowed pace. Silva by TKO.


KELVIN HUNT: Silva should win this. Fitch will need to weather the storm in the first round and hope to take advantage of Silva gassing IF the opportunity arises. If Silva is able to stop the takedowns and is in shape for this fight. He’ll stop Fitch via TKO.

DENNY HODGE: Erick Silva is flat out explosive, so expect Fitch to do what he does to neutralize the types of skills that Silva possesses. Silva will get off early but will find himself fending off a slew of takedown attempts. Fitch will get the fight to the mat, where he will use his smothering top control to offset any submission attempts that Silva may look to land. Silva will be able to win some scrambles and get back to his feet, but in the end it will not be enough to overcome the time spent on his back. Fitch by decision.

Light Heavyweight: Phil Davis (9-1, 1 NC) vs. Wagner Prado (8-0, 1 NC)

Odds: Davis -415 vs. Prado +315

JACK BRATCHER: I saw a Sprite commercial with Phil Davis this evening at the movie theatre. Pretty cool. If you remember when Prado made his UFC debut against Davis back in August, he came out aggressive, had Davis on his heels with his back to the cage when Davis inadvertently poked him in the eye and the ref stopped the fight. Fuel TV analysts Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen both criticized Davis for not using his wrestling in that fight and Sonnen even said Davis should be happy the fight was stopped because things weren’t looking good for him. He did have Davis on his heels, but let’s be honest, that fight lasted only 1:28 and I don’t think you can make too much of a judgment or prediction on what would have happened based on that. Here’s what we know: Prado is undefeated with seven of his eight wins coming by knockout (one via decision). And most of his KO wins were in the first round. But all those fights were in Brazil and you have never heard of any of his opponents. It is what it is. While it’s true this fight is in Brazil, I don’t see a UFC newcomer like this being able to hang with someone like Phil Davis. Davis wrestling is just too good and his striking is just good enough (or should be) to at least hold his own standing. Davis via decision.

JAY CEE: Phil Davis wins via Decision

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS:  My pick opinion hasn’t changed on this one since their no contest bout in August. Davis is one of the best wrestlers in the division, and, even though he’s not always the most comfortable on his feet, his ability to get a fight to the ground and dominate from the top is more than enough to win him this fight. Davis by decision.


KELVIN HUNT: I think Davis will fight a safe fight here especially if he gets into trouble early with the powerful Prado on the feet. Davis via decision.

DENNY HODGE: Davis and Prado get back at it after an inadvertent eye poke ended their first fight, resulting in a no contest. Prado is very aggressive in the cage, but he will run right into the strength of Davis which is obviously his wrestling. Davis will get his takedowns and will hand Prado his first loss in the second round. Davis by TKO.

Welterweight: Demian Maia (16-4) vs. Rick Story (14-5)

Odds: Maia -155 vs. Story +125

 JACK BRATCHER: Maia has faltered against guys at that upper echelon; guys like Nate Marquardt (2009), Mark Munoz (2011) and Chris Weidman (2012). And of course he went the distance with Anderson Silva, ultimately losing a unanimous decision in 2010. But everyone else he beats. The question is, where is Rick Story — is he top tier? Story has never been stopped, but he’s dropped decisions to John Hathaway (2009), Charlie Brenneman (2011) and Martin Kampmann (2011). His most recent fight was a decision win over Brock Jardine, who was making his UFC debut back in June. Maia is no Brock Jardine that’s for sure. This could be a close fight. I’m leaning toward Maia by either submission or decision — most likely decision.

JAY CEE: Demian Maia wins via Submission

JAN LOUIS GAETJENS:  Maia has some of the best jiu jitsu in the world, but he’s struggled to showcase that submission game recently. And, while he clearly outclasses Rick Story on the ground, Story has an uncanny knack for not getting finished. He’s obviously never faced anyone with the submission skills of Maia, but I think he could actually steal this one if he can turn this into a three round affair. Story by decision.


KELVIN HUNT: I like this fight and Story always brings it. I think on the feet this is relatively an even fight. Maia certainly has the edge on the ground. Story likes to fight in the clinch, but Maia excels there and can take him down from that position. Maia takes this one either via decision or submission.

DENNY HODGE: Demian Maia should take this fight via submission.


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