UFC 142 fight card: Erick Silva vs Carlo Prater preview

Erick Silva Carlo Prater

Despite a three year age difference, two different eras of fighters will collide this Saturday night (January 14, 2011) as powerful prospect Erick Silva takes on resurgent veteran Carlo Prater on the UFC 142 main card in Rio.

Erick Silva made a tremendous splash in his UFC debut, crushing his opponent via knockout in just 40 seconds. He hails from Nogueira's fight team in Brazil and his progression in technique and skill has been drastic. He's hoping to take it to the next level with a victory over a seasoned veteran of the sport.

Carlo Prater has been there and done that in the welterweight and lightweight divisions throughout his nearly 10 year professional mixed martial arts career. He holds some very significant victories over current top contenders like Carlos Condit and Melvin Guillard and he's hoping his experience will propel him against the young gun.

Will Silva continue his tremendous surge in the welterweight division with another showstopper? Does the veteran Carlo Prater have anything in his bag of tricks which Silva hasn't seen before? How does each man find success in the Octagon on Saturday night?

Le'ts find out:

Erick Silva

Record: 13-1 (1 No Contest) overall, 1-0 in the UFC

Key Wins: Luis Ramos (UFC 134)

Key Losses: none

How he got here: Erick Silva is an extremely promising talent in the welterweight division. He began his mixed martial arts career in 2005. He was sloppy at first, but progressed in technique and skill quickly. He won his first four fights and after suffering his only decision loss in 2006, he hasn't looked back since.

He continued to impress, compiling stoppage victories with both his striking and his submissions while showcasing his endurance to score three decisions and it eventually resulted in him earning a shot at the prestigious Brazilian Jungle Fights welterweight title. It was a one night tournament and despite winning a grueling bout against Gil de Freitas via third round submission, he pressed on and submitted Fransisco Ayan in barely a minute to capture the title.

He would go on to make his UFC debut when the promotion returned to Brazil this past August at UFC 134, knocking out veteran Shooto Brazil welterweight champion Luis Ramos in just 40 seconds and then celebrating with an incredible flip off the cage. Silva is expected to bring the fireworks once more against veteran Carlo Prater.

How he gets it done: Prater has a reputation for being difficult to finish (unless you're Drew Fickett) so this could be an opportunity for Silva to not only showcase his entire skill-set but his endurance as well. Silva is very dangerous not only in the striking department as UFC fans have seen, but his ground game is superb as well. He's capable of putting opponents in precarious situations both from top control and even if he's on his back.

Expect Silva to showcase his striking early as he should clearly have an edge in that department, not only in power but in technique and speed. He should be dancing around on the outside, utilizing footwork to get in, land combinations or power shots and get out without taking any damage himself.

If the fight goes to the ground, even though it's Prater's strength, I don't expect Silva to be overly concerned. He has a ton of confidence no matter what position he's in so he'll constantly be looking to sweep or submit his opponent. The hometown crowd should be lending a ton of support as well so he'll likely be feeding off of that.

Carlo Prater

Record: 29-10-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC

Key Wins: Carlos Condit (Fightworld 2), Melvin Guillard (Freestyle Fighting Championships 7), Cameron Dollar (LFC 7)

Key Losses: Carlos Condit (WEC 32), Drew Fickett 2x (Shine Lightweight Grand Prix, Rage on the River), Antonio McKee (MFC 22)

How he got here: Originally born in Brazil, Carlo Prater settled down in Texas and began his professional mixed martial arts career there. He got off to a hot 10-0 start including a submission victory over Melvin Guillard before suffering his first loss to Drew Fickett. He's had a very up and down career since that point, but his high point likely happened back in 2004 after victories over both Carlos Condit and Spencer Fisher.

Since then, Prater has never really been able to get it going. Anytime he's strung a few wins together, they're bookended by losses. He was granted a welterweight title shot in 2008 in which Condit avenged his prior loss.

Prater has also had significant issues making weight, primarily because he was still trying to make lightweight. His inability to make 155 cost him a shot at Antonio McKee's title for MFC. After competing in the Shine lightweight grand prix, Prater also missed weight by a whopping 15 pounds and then also fought at 160 pound catchweight for his Strikeforce debut.

He's currently riding his first four fight winning streak since 2004 and stepped in for as an injury replacement to take on rising star Erick Silva. "Neo" could steal a ton of momentum if he pulls off the upset on Saturday night.

How he gets it done: Carlo Prater has nothing to lose as his opponent has all the pressure heading into this bout. He needs to be completely carefree and not freaked out about his Octagon debut. An intelligent gameplan would consist of getting in Silva's face. Prater can take a shot, so it would be worth it to get inside, force a clinch and take away many of Silva's dangerous weapons.

If he can take the fight to the ground either with a regular takedown or by dragging Silva to the canvas in the clinch, Prater should be cautious. He's not likely to earn a submission against someone as talented as Silva, but since Silva is confident on his back, Prater could be able to ride out in top control and steal two rounds. He's got the grappling acumen to pull it off.

Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight is the pressure on both fighters. Prater has little to no pressure as he's a late injury replacement while Silva has a ton of local support, is riding a huge wave of hype and is coming off a thrilling performance that he's hoping to replicate or improve upon. Will Silva be able to respond to the pressure, harness it and perform to the best of his ability?

Prater may not be under much pressure, but he could certainly be intimidated. Despite being born in Rio, he's lived in America for quite some time and the crowd will not be on his side nearly as much. He also has to deal with "Octagon jitter," something that has affected nearly everyone who's made their UFC debut after experiencing success elsewhere. Whether or not Prater's mind is in the right place could throw off his game.

Bottom Line: This bout should be very entertaining. Both Silva and Prater are very skilled and aggressive with submissions on the ground. Prater seems to have found something inside himself recently to really go over the top in terms of finishing opponents with his jiu-jitsu. Also, Silva is extremely dangerous on the feet as evidenced by his UFC debut and the battle of his striking skills against the durability of Prater could also be a sight to see. This should be a terrific match-up that will either provide an opportunity for the prospect to showcase his skills or a veteran to experience a massive career resurgence. Stay tuned.

Who will come out on top at UFC 142? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!

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