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UFC 153 receives facelift with Anderson Silva now headlining

Silva vs. Bonnar, Nogueira vs. Herman and Teixiera vs. Maldonaldo are new fights on tap for Rio

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Middleweight champion Anderson Silva throws a leg during a news conference and media work out Thursday, July 5, 2012 in advance of UFC 148.

Some of the biggest fights the UFC will stage over the next month are ones that no one saw coming.

Injuries have forced the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts promotion to scramble for new matchups. That’s especially true for UFC 153, scheduled for Oct. 13 in Rio de Janeiro, after the card lost its top three headlining bouts in recent weeks.

The UFC announced three new pay-per-view contests for the card Wednesday night after USA Today broke the news. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva steps in to save the event and makes his first light-heavyweight appearance in three years.

Silva, 37, will take on 35-year old veteran Stephan Bonnar, who is on a three-bout win streak but has openly contemplated retirement if he couldn’t get a major fight. In Silva, widely considered the best mixed martial artist of all time, Bonnar gets his wish.

Silva’s mentor, Antonio “Big Nog” Nogueira, also stepped up on short notice to fight in his home country. Nogueira will face Dave Herman in a featured heavyweight bout.

Glover Teixiera, who was supposed to meet Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, got a new opponent for his co-main event slot. Teixiera will take on fellow Brazilian Fabio Maldonaldo.

“This is old-school UFC,” UFC President Dana White told USA Today. “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 the sport and why we went on a 12-year run without canceling an event.”

That’s a backhanded insult of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who wouldn’t accept a last-minute bout against Chael Sonnen to save UFC 151 three weeks ago.

White’s decision to cancel Las Vegas’ Labor Day weekend card started the disintegration of UFC 153, as Vitor Belfort was pulled off of the Brazilian show to fight Jones in Toronto.

Belfort’s new assignment preceded injuries to Jose Aldo and Jackson, which left the UFC 153 main event and co-main event empty earlier this week.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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