If you are unfamiliar with the system, this is how it works. An independent, non-bias viewer (in this case, yours truly) selects the three top performers from the event to name as the “three stars”. If you couldn’t figure it out on your own, the first star is the most impressive performer from the event, the second star is the second most impressive, and so on and so forth.
The “three stars” are judged off the effectiveness and overall impact of their performance. Still following? Good, because here are the “three stars” from UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar.
Third Star – Demian Maia
There was a time, a time not long ago actually, where Demian Maia’s career looked like it had peaked. Maia was, for lack of a better word, a gatekeeper in the middleweight division. He beat a majority of the guys he faced but lost to the elite. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was especially frustrating for Maia fans when the Brazilian appeared to have completely abandoned his world-class jiu-jitsu game to stand on his feet. After opening his UFC career with five-straight submission wins, Maia went his next nine fights without finishing an opponent by submission.
For the past few years, it seemed the Brazilian was satisfied with working on his stand up and choosing to strike in fights where he held a huge advantage on the ground. That all changed when last July Maia made the decision to drop down to 170-pounds.
Maia is 2-0 in the division with a total fight time of three minutes and 17 seconds. The 34-year-old has quickly dispatched of Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 148 and Rick Story at UFC 153 to pump a breathe of fresh air into his career.
When Maia commits to his ground game, there are few men that can stop him. Story was not one of those men and became Maia’s first victim via submission in three-and-a-half years. No fighter has ever walked through Story the way Maia did and to put a feather in his cap, the Brazilian was the first man to ever finish “The Horror”.
If Maia continues to use a grapple-first attitude the way he did against Story the welterweight division needs to look out.
Second Star – Jon Fitch
Going in to UFC 153, Jon Fitch made his financial strains very public and let it be known that he needed a “Fight of the Night” worthy performance against Erick Silva. The 34-year-old has been in the UFC since 2005 and of his 17 appearances inside the octagon, his bout against Silva at UFC 153 was arguably the best. It was so good, in fact, that of several very entertaining battles on the card, Fitch and Silva were awarded an additional $70,000 for “Fight of the Night”.
After going winless in back-to-back fights, Fitch badly needed a win to get back on the radar in the UFC welterweight division. He was pitted against an extremely tough opponent in Silva, who had a massive hype-train around him after his first three UFC appearances. While the win didn’t come without a few scares, Fitch showed why he is the established veteran by handling his business against a dangerous foe and adding UFC win number 14 to his resume.
Usually Fitch is criticized for having his fights go the distance, however this most recent performance was an exception. All 15-minutes of Fitch vs. Silva was fun to watch. The two welterweights delivered action from start to finish and the performance without a doubt earned Fitch a number of new fans.
There are few times this has ever been said – Jon Fitch’s next fight is one to look forward to.
First Star – Anderson Silva
In a night full of tremendous performances, Anderson “The Spider” Silva once again stole the show.
The reigning UFC middleweight champion outclassed Stephan Bonnar in every way possible in the UFC 153 main event, having his way with “The American Psycho” from beginning to end. Watching the fight it was obviously it was only a matter of time until Silva did something spectacular – that time roughly four and a half minutes into the first round when the Brazilian connected with a perfect knee to the solar plexus that send Bonnar crashing to the mat in agony.
While everyone and their mother knew the fight was a mismatch, the fact Silva stood in the cage with his hands down letting his opponent punch him in the face shows why he is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. Less skilled or not, Bonnar is a professional fighter who has competed against some of the best in the world, and “The Spider” made him look like an amateur. It’s not exactly surprising, though. Actually, it’s what we’ve come to expect of Silva at this point in his career.
Silva stepped up on short notice, moved up a weight class, knocked out an opponent who had never been knocked out and extended his record for consecutive wins in the UFC to 16. The Brazilian was without a doubt the number one star in Rio de Janeiro.