With his career winding down, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Stephan Bonnar (14-7 MMA, 8-6 UFC) has been begging for a big fight. Now he’s got it.
USA TODAY Sports has confirmed with company officials that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (32-4, 15-0) is moving up to 205 pounds to meet Bonnar in the three-round main event of UFC 153 event, which takes place Oct. 13 at Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena.
Additionally, Brazilian slugger Glover Teixeira (18-2, 1-0) meets fellow countryman Fabio Maldonado (18-5, 1-2) in the evening’s co-main event. And in a bout first reported by Brazilian outlet Tatame, former interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 4-3) faces Dave Herman (21-4, 1-2).
The new additions to the card were necessitated when original headliner, featherweight champ Jose Aldo, and original co-main-event fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Tuesday were forced to withdraw with injuries. Aldo’s opponent, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, now will be rescheduled for a later date, while Teixeira, who was expected to face Jackson, now draws Maldonado.
“UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar” now features a six-fight main card that airs on pay-per-view. Preliminary-card bouts are expected to air on FX and stream on Facebook.
“We’re back on track,” UFC President Dana White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “Anderson Silva wasn’t scheduled to fight at all. I called him today, and he’s shooting a commercial in Brazil. Anderson Silva steps up, and Stephan Bonnar wants to fight him. The Teixeira vs. Maldonado fight comes together, and then Nogueira was standing right there with Anderson shooting the commercial with him, and he said he wanted to fight, too.
“This is old-school UFC. A card is in jeopardy, but guys that are world champions and superstars stepped up and jumped in and saved the card. This is why the fans love this sport and why we went on a 12-year run without canceling an event.”
That streak recently ended, of course, when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones declined a late-notice fight with two-time middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen at UFC 151, and the promotion ultimately elected to scrap the entire event.
Bonnar’s place in UFC history is secure as one-half of an epic 2005 fight with Forrest Griffin in the live finale of the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” That bout is widely considered the starting point for the sport’s current popularity growth. Bonnar later tangled with future champions Rashad Evans and Jones, among others, during a disappointing 2-5 stretch. However, he’s since put together a three-fight win streak and has openly lobbied for fights with some of the sport’s biggest names.
He certainly found that in Silva, who is widely considered the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. The Brazilian phenom is undefeated since 2006 and has won an incredible 15 straight fights in the UFC. The 185-pound kingpin has fought twice before in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, earning first-round knockout wins of former 205-pound champ Griffin and James Irvin.
Maldonado had been expected to fight Jorgen Kruth at this month’s UFC on FX 5 event. However, Kruth abruptly retired, and Maldonado was expected to shift to UFC 154, where he would meet Cyrille Diabate. But UFC officials had yet to announce the new fight, and Maldonado openly campaigned for the bout with Teixeira.
Meanwhile, Teixeira made his UFC debut in May with an impressive first-round submission win over Kyle Kingsbury. The result marked Teixeira’s 16th straight win. His most recent loss came in March 2005.
Nogueira fights for the first time since suffering a broken arm in a December 2011 loss to Frank Mir. Nogueira was expected to fight Cheick Kongo at this past July’s UFC 149, but “Big Nog” ultimately decided his arm wasn’t ready for action. He now meets Herman, who looks to snap a two-fight losing streak after dropping back-to-back outings against Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve.