UFC 153 Preview: 4 Burning Questions

(Photo by Ed Mulholland via ESPN.com)

Every time UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions, and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or underperform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.

That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar.

4. How Will Demian Maia Perform In His Real Welterweight Debut?
Yes, Demian Maia “officially” made his welterweight debut at UFC 148 in July when he took on Dong Hyun Kim, but anyone who watched the bout would say it was far from a fight. The Brazilian first fight at 170-pounds lasted a mere 47-seconds as Kim was forced to quit due to a rib injury in the opening seconds of the fight. It was essentially impossible to take anything away from Maia’s performance due to the injury and there is no telling how he is a different fighter at welterweight.

In his sophomore bout at welterweight, Maia is scheduled to take on Rick “The Horror” Story in the opening bout of the UFC 153 pay-per-view broadcast.

While Maia had a fairly successful run in the middleweight division, going 9-3 against some very tough competitors, it came to a point where he was unable to match the strength of his opponents and compete effectively against the top fighters at 185-pounds. Maia had the chance at a fresh start against Kim, and while he got the win, it wasn’t the controversy-free victory he would have liked.

Hopefully there will be no incidents when Maia meets Story and the fight will end free of controversy so a sense can be gained on Maia as a welterweight fighter.

3. How Will Erick Silva Handle Fighting An Elite Welterweight?
Erick Silva may be the hottest prospect in the UFC welterweight division, but the Brazilian hasn’t exactly fought the cream of the crop in the 170-pounds. Luis Ramos and Charlie Brenneman, the two fighters Silva holds UFC wins over, are no longer with the organization, which makes you question the quality of opposition the Brazilian has been facing.

Silva brings a professional MMA record of 14 wins, two losses and one no contest to the octagon at UFC 153 to face former welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch in a main card bout. Training out of Team Nogueira and X-Gym in Brazil, alongside great fighters such as the Nogueira brother and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Silva is a highly talented competitor who can both knock out and submit his opponents.

At UFC 153, the 28-year-old goes from fighting low-tier 170-pounders to Fitch, a man that was ranked as the number two welterweight in the world for years. Facing Fitch is a stern leap in competition for Silva, but one he appears to be more than ready for. However, appearing ready is one thing – performing on the fight night is an entirely different animal.

2. Is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Prepared For His Octagon Return?
Ten months after having his arm broken by Frank Mir at UFC 140, former PRIDE and interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira returns to mixed martial arts competition in the co-main event of UFC 153 when he takes on Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman.

There are some concerns surrounding Nogueira’s health as he readies for his first fight since December 2011. The concerns are primarily about the Brazilian’s arm and if it is completely recovered from the damage sustained when it was broken by a Mir kimura. Nogueira was slated to fight Cheick Kongo at UFC 149 in July but had to withdraw because rehabilitation of the arm was behind scheduled. “Minotauro” wasn’t even expected to fight at UFC 153 until a few weeks ago when he was standing by Anderson Silva’s side when the UFC asked the middleweight champ to fight on the card and Nogueira offered his services as well.

It is unknown how hard Nogueira was training when he was placed on the UFC 153 card, which raises questions if he will be completely prepared to compete. Hopefully “Big Nog” is recovered from his injuries and properly trained or the fight could end badly for him. No one besides Nogueira and his camp know the truth about his health, however, all will be reviled once the cage door closes on Saturday night.

1. Can Stephan Bonnar Pull Off The Biggest Upset In UFC History?
“The Ultimate Fighter” season one runner-up Stephan Bonnar gets the chance of a lifetime at UFC 153 when he challenges the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva in the main event from Rio de Janeiro.

With a 3-3 record in his past six fights and zero top-10 wins in his career, Bonnar got his chance to fight Silva after the UFC 153 main event between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar was scrapped due to injury. Silva offered to move up a weight class in order to save the event and Bonnar was the only opponent willing to step up and fight the most dominant fighter the sport has ever seen on one months notice.

“The American Psycho” is a 13-1 underdog to the dominant champion and few are giving him a chance of doing much of anything against Silva, especially in front of his home country. If he can pull off the upset, though, it would be one of, if not the shocking underdog stories in MMA history.

Should the Bonnar lose to Silva as many expect him to, he has nothing to be ashamed of; he lost to one of, if not the best fighter in the world. Facing Silva at this stage of his career is a defining fight for Bonnar and one that will give him the opportunity to silence the people who say he never won the big one.

Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com, wrote this article. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBohnMMA. Also, follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.

Posted by Mike Bohn | Articles