Anderson Silva adds to his legend with each unforgettable performance.

Silva became the first man to finish Stephan Bonnar with strikes, as he dispatched “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 finalist with a savage first-round knee strike to the solar plexus and follow-up ground punches in the UFC 153 headliner on Saturday at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Bonnar (15-8, 8-7 UFC) met his end 4:40 into round one. Afterward, Silva reaffirmed his desire to remain at 185 pounds, where he has held the UFC championship for six years.

“I’m not going to fight at 205 pounds again. I fight at 185 pounds,” he said. “I only fought at [light heavyweight] to save the event and put on a show for everybody.”

Bonnar did what he could. He pressed “The Spider” in the clinch with short knees, elbows and punches. Once the two separated, Silva put his own back to the cage and dared Bonnar to engage, his hands dangling below his waist, his head completely exposed. The Hammond, Ind., native hit the mark with a few punches. Many others found only air. Later, Silva tripped “The American Psycho” and, as Bonnar turned his back to return to his feet, the Brazilian unleashed the knee that for all intents and purposes finished the fight. A few standing-to-ground right hands made it official.

Silva has now won 17 consecutive fights, a record 16 of them inside the Octagon.

“I’m not the best,” he said. “I just believe that I can do things that people think are impossible.”

‘Minotauro’ Triumphant, Armbars Herman

Former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira made a triumphant return to the Octagon, as he submitted Dave Herman with a second-round armbar in the co-main event. Herman (21-5, 1-3 UFC) tapped out 4:31 into round two.

“I feel so happy, because this man said jiu-jitsu doesn’t work, but jiu-jitsu does work and it’s a Brazilian art,” Nogueira said. “It was a beautiful position. I’m sure that he does practice jiu-jitsu, because he knows how to defend himself.”

Nogueira (34-7-1, 5-3 UFC), who had not fought since suffering a horrific arm injury at UFC 140 in December, pressed Herman in the clinch in the first round. In the second, with the Team Quest export fading, Nogueira struck for a takedown, moved to mount and transitioned to the armbar. Herman defended well for a time, but “Minotauro” would not be denied.

“I just had 16 screws and a big plate in my arm after my last fight,” Nogueira said. “I came on a plane with [UFC President] Dana White, who supported me very much. The UFC got me the best doctor, and, 10 months later, I’m here fighting for you guys.”

Teixeira Bludgeons Maldonado, Forces Stoppage

Glover Teixeira won his 17th consecutive fight and handed Team Nogueira’s Fabio Maldonado a nightmarish beating in the process, forcing a stoppage to their light heavyweight showcase between rounds two and three.

Teixeira (19-2, 2-0 UFC) clipped his fellow Brazilian with a pair of left hooks in the first round, the second of which drove him to the mat. The John Hackleman protégé followed him to the ground and smashed away with nearly 100 combined punches and elbows. Only an attempted arm-triangle choke interrupted the beating. The two men were restarted near the end of the round, and, out of nowhere, Maldonado (18-6, 1-3 UFC) landed a clean left hook that briefly left Teixeira on wobbly legs. It was the last meaningful offense he offered.

Teixeira moved to the ground again in round two and ultimately advanced to full mount, continuing to plunge elbows and punches into Maldonado’s barely recognizable face. At the conclusion of the second five minutes, the cageside physician deemed Maldonado had absorbed enough punishment. Afterward, Teixeira took aim at the man he was originally booked to face.

“I would like to fight Quinton Jackson,” he said. “He was talking all this crap, and I never talked bad about him. He is my idol. I loved that guy when he was coming up in Pride, but he said I was talking bad about him. I wasn’t talking bad about him; I’m just afraid of no man. Step in the ring with me. I’ll fight anyone.”

Fitch Grinds Down Prospect Silva

Jon Fitch File Photo

Fitch at times dominated Silva.

Former welterweight title contender Jon Fitch was in top form, as he mauled fast-rising Brazilian prospect Erick Silva en route to a unanimous decision at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Fitch (24-4-1, 14-2-1 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Relentless in his pursuit of victory, Fitch wore down Silva in the clinch and on the ground. The Team Nogueira representative cracked Fitch with a right hand in the first round and tried to submit him with a rear-naked choke in the second. The Fort Wayne, Ind., native calmly worked his way out of danger, returned to his feet and resumed his attack.

“I knew I was safe there,” Fitch said. “I’m extremely difficult to finish. Before the B.J. Penn fight [at UFC 127], I spent hundreds of hours with top black belts on my back, and I’m very comfortable there. I knew that if he wasn’t working to gain top position that he was wasting energy underneath me.”

Clearly exhausted, Silva had nothing left in the tank for the third. Fitch grounded him early and then unleashed a hellish assault, spearheaded by punches and elbows. Silva offered nothing from the bottom and retreated to his corner visibly dejected when the horn sounded. It was undoubtedly an eye-opening experience for the promising 28-year-old.

“I would have beaten anybody tonight,” Fitch said. “I don’t care who it was or what weight class. My family needed this win and I needed this win, so I had to do what I had to do.”

Davis Anaconda Choke Finishes Prado

The world-ranked Phil Davis submitted the previously unbeaten Wagner Prado with a second-round anaconda choke in a featured light heavyweight bout. Prado (8-1, 0-1 UFC) waved the white flag 4:29 into round two.

Davis (10-1, 6-1 UFC) dominated the Brazilian from the start. He struck for multiple takedowns in the first round, passed the Prado guard without much resistance and controlled the match from top position. In the second, he delivered another takedown and locked in an arm-triangle choke. Prado freed himself, but Davis caught him in the anaconda choke on the exit and finished it.

“Normally, I’m the young lion coming in,” Davis said. “I’ll tell you, it’s definitely a different feeling getting in the gym and knowing that somebody like Wagner is coming to [knock] your block off. [The anaconda choke] is one of my high-percentage moves. I didn’t even get a chance to fully lock it in, but it worked.”

Maia Neck Crank Submits Story

Brazilian grappling savant Demian Maia submitted Brave Legion’s Rick Story with a first-round neck crank in a welterweight showcase. Story (14-6, 7-4 UFC), who had never before been finished, asked out of the match 2:30 into round one.

Maia (17-4, 11-4 UFC) secured a takedown inside the first minute, and from there, it was all downhill for his opponent. He moved to mount, punched his way onto Story’s back and secured his hooks. Maia, a 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, tried first for the rear-naked choke and then transitioned to the neck crank. The pressure forced blood to spew from Story’s mouth and nose an instant before he tapped out.

“I wanted very much to fight here and finish my fight,” Maia said. “I tried the rear-naked, but, with the gloves, sometimes it’s hard.”

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