The dominant middleweight champion willingly planted himself against the fence -- the last place he'd arguably want to be against a bigger opponent -- and stood up to Bonnar's best punches.
At one point, with his corner yelling at him to change strategy, the Brazilian calmly put up his hands in a gesture to show he was in control.
With less than a minute remaining in the round, Silva broke off the fence and forced Bonnar back with an inside trip. As Bonnar frantically tried to regain his balance along the fence, Silva caught him with a beautiful knee to the solar plexus.
The end came immediately after, as a visibly hurt Bonnar turtled up in the center of the cage. Referee Marc Goddard waved the action off at the 4:40 mark.
After the fight, Silva (33-4) said he would not fight again at light heavyweight. The only reason he agreed to move up in weight was to save the UFC 153 event, which lost its original main event when featherweight champion Jose Aldo was injured in a motorcycle accident.
It's likely the end of the road for Bonnar (15-8), who came out of semi-retirement to accept the Silva fight on short notice. The 35-year-old Bonnar had won three straight prior to the loss.
Nogueira shines in Brazil again, submits Herman
Something about a layoff and a comeback fight in Brazil seems to work well for Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
In his first trip to the cage in 10 months, Nogueira outclassed Dave Herman through two rounds, eventually finishing the fight via armbar in the second round.
Herman got off to a good start, throwing efficient kicks and knees to the body. Nogueira settled in quickly, though, slipping punches and snapping Herman's head back with a hard one-two combination midway through the round.
Things continued to go south for Herman in the second frame. Nogueira floored him with a hard left hook and threatened with submissions. Herman survived only to be taken down again, when he finally tapped to the armbar at the 4:31 mark.
The performance was reminiscent of a performance from Nogueira (34-7-1) one year ago, when he returned from injury layoff to knock out Brendan Schaub in Brazil at UFC 134. The 36-year-old was on his way to an upset victory over Frank Mir in December before being submitted via kimura.
Herman (21-5) has now lost three straight in the UFC after winning his promotional debut against John Einemo in June 2011.
Teixeira beats up Maldonado, takes doctor stoppage in two
Maldonado was in trouble from the opening bell. Teixeira landed a hard left hook to the temple in the opening moments and proceeded to swarm Maldonado as he turtled up against the cage.
When referee Mario Yamasaki didn't stop the fight, Teixeira rolled Maldonado onto his back and transitioned into full mount. After briefly threatening with an arm triangle, Teixeira returned to mount where he landed a vicious string of elbows.
Amazingly, Maldonado responded with a hard left hook of his own after working to his feet near the end of the round. It was an incredible display of heart but did little to change the theme of the fight.
Teixeira went back to work in the second round with takedowns and more ground and pound. The action was stopped long enough for a ringside physician to check out severe swelling over Maldonado's left eye. The Brazilian survived the second round, but doctors called the fight before the start of the third.
The performance will promote Teixeira (19-2) directly into title contention. The 32-year-old had been scheduled to face Quinton Jackon in his second UFC appearance. A similar, big name opponent is likely in his future.
Maldonado (18-6), who accepted the fight on short notice, drops consecutive fights for just the second time in his career. He had won 11 straight before the 0-2 skid.
Fitch too much for Silva in unanimous decision
Fitch got off to a good start in the first, catching a body kick and putting Silva on the floor in the opening minutes. The athletic Silva worked back to his feet, only to be dragged back to the canvas by Fitch.
A crucial mistake in the second round nearly cost Fitch the fight. Working along the fence for a takedown, Fitch lost his balance and gave up his back. The Brazilian crowd built into a frenzy as Silva set up a rear-naked choke, but Fitch managed to survive, reverse the position and finish the round in an armbar attempt.
Silva came into the third visibly exhausted. An aggressive Fitch scored an early takedown and spent the majority of the final frame in top position, landing punches and elbows. All three judges scored it for Fitch by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Fitch (24-4-1) earns his first win since August 2010. He fought to a majority draw against B.J. Penn at UFC 127 and suffered the first knockout loss of his UFC career to Johny Hendricks in December.
The 28-year-old Silva (14-3) suffers his first real loss since 2006. He was controversially disqualified from his second UFC appearance for landing punches to the back of Carlo Prater's head.
Davis overwhelms Prado, earns submission win
The light heavyweight leaned on his collegiate wrestling background, repeatedly taking Prado to the ground. The Brazilian fought off several submission attempts, but eventually tapped to an Anaconda choke at the 4:29 mark of the second round.
Prado stuffed the first takedown attempt from Davis, but was fairly helpless after that. Referee Marc Goddard warned Prado repeatedly in the first round for grabbing the fence, as the Brazilian tried in vain to prevent Davis from advancing position.
Davis (10-1) wins for the first time since March 2011. The 28-year-old was on a fast track to the 205-pound title, but fell short in a decision loss to Rashad Evans at a UFC on Fox event in January.
"Honestly, I so want to come back to fight here against an American or some other neutral country, because I want to be able to feel this excitement," Davis said.
Prado (8-1) loses for the first time in his professional career. It was officially his second appearance in the UFC. The first resulted in a no contest in August, when Davis landed an accidental eye poke that stopped the fight.
"I think that Phil wasn't prepared for me for the first fight, but he came prepared for this one. I'm sure he did all his camp focusing on me," Prado said.
Maia dominates Story in first round submission
For the first time since February 2009, Demian Maia ended a fight by submission.
Maia improved to 2-0 as a UFC welterweight with a first-round finish over Rick Story via rear-naked choke. After showcasing improved striking in recent fights, Maia turned to his strength on the floor to continue his run at 170 pounds.
The Brazilian latched onto a single leg attempt in the fight's opening moments and eventually slammed Story to the ground near the fence. The submission specialist cruised from there, taking Story's back and locking in the choke by the 2:30 mark.
Maia (17-4) has now posted back-to-back first-round finishes since dropping to welterweight in July. The 34-year-old earned a title shot against Anderson Silva in April 2010, but fell short via unanimous decision.
"I always look for the submissions, I work very hard for this," Maia said. "Rick is actually very strong and has a good hand, but he fell into the kind of situation I always practice in my training. I feel like I've found myself in the welterweight division; I want to fight for the title as soon as the UFC wants me to."
Story (14-6) drops to 1-3 in his last four fights. He had put together a six-fight win streak before the recent slide.