This Wednesday (Oct. 9, 2013) two massively-talented welterweights will take to the Octagon when Erick Silva meets Dong Hyun Kim on the main card of UFC Fight Night 29 from Jose Correa Gymnasium in Barueri, Brazil.
Both fighters sit just outside of the top 10 in arguably the most talented division in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). A win at UFN 29 will provide a huge boost in momentum along with a top-level opponent in the near future.
Silva is one of most highly-touted young prospects in UFC.
He sits with an impressive 15-3 (1) record in mixed martial arts (MMA), and his loss to Carlo Prater was due to a disqualification from blows to the back of the head. Silva pulled off a slick triangle submission over Jason High at UFC on FUEL TV 10 back in June.
Kim is a dominating grappler whose smothering style has given fits to his Octagon opponents. The Korean Judo expert won two in a row over Siyar Bahadurzada and Paulo Thiago. "Stun Gun" has been in UFC since 2008 and believes himself to be one of the finest welterweights on the planet.
He even came out recently and said that he is a better wrestler than reigning division champ Georges St. Pierre.
That's a bold statement, but Kim may be light years away from getting a shot at St. Pierre. He should focus on the task at hand, because his young Brazilian foe is a relentless finishing machine who has never been stopped himself.
Record: 15-3 (1) overall, 3-2 UFC
Key Wins: Charlie Brenneman (UFC on FX 3), Jason High (UFC on FUEL TV 10)
Key Losses: Jon Fitch (UFC 153)
Keys to Victory: Silva is a dynamic, gifted fighter who has a ton of ways to win in the Octagon. Problem is, his opponent has a way of taking away a fighter's best skills. Silva will have to be sharp in every aspect of MMA, because this will be the stiffest test he's faced outside of Fitch.
Silva has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu that he's used to submit nine foes up to this point. He uses an extremely active top and bottom game and transitions very quickly to advantageous positions on the ground. However, Kim has never been submitted and has such good grappling that finding any open spots for a finishing hold are going to be few and far between.
Standing is where Silva is going to maintain his advantage. Kim's only legitimate technical knockout loss came to a vicious knee from Condit. Silva isn't quite to the level of "Natural Born Killer," but he has a brutal Muay Thai game. Pushing the pace at Kim will be paramount to success in Barueri. Silva will need to stay in "Stun Gun's" face with pressure to avoid getting taking down too much.
He'll have the full support of his home crowd behind him, and emotions will be running high for Silva. He most likely knows that a striking stoppage is his best way to win. Although he's proficient on the ground, there's just no need to play into Kim's obvious strong point.
Dong Hyun Kim
Record: 16-2-1 (1) overall, 8-2 (1) UFC
Keys to Victory: Kim has a ruthlessly efficient wrestling game that he uses to smother his opponents into ineffectiveness. Unlike Silva, Kim prefers to grind his foes down to a pulp, evident by his seven decision victories in the Octagon.
Kim hasn't finished a fight in the UFC since his very first bout almost five-and-a-half years ago.
That lack of finishes has him needing to win impressively at UFN 29 to score any major points with the UFC matchmakers. Kim is effective but he's also been called boring. That kind of fighting just isn't rewarded much these days, so Kim should perhaps look to open his game up against Silva.
That could definitely leave him open to a flash knockout from Silva, but there's always going to be danger of that anyway. Kim's kickboxing needs to have progressed to a new level to contend with Silva on the feet, but the fight may not be standing for long.
Kim's takedown game is so good that he can nullify the power strikes of Silva like he did those of noted striker Siyar Bahadurzada. Although Silva does have an excellent submission arsenal, Kim won't be scared to engage on the ground. He'll look for throws and takedowns and push Silva up against the cage. It may not be pretty, but you can't argue with the results.
Kim's grappling is up there with some of the best in MMA.
His experience will also serve him well here. He's been through a lot of high-level bouts in UFC, something that his opponent lacks. His Judo black belt should keep him out of danger on the ground, so he'll look to drag it there from the opening bell. On paper, Kim has a slight advantage here. Silva can end any fight in an instant, so Kim's propensity to play it safe makes a decision play into his hands.
Bottom Line from Barueri: This fight features two incredibly polished fighters who are nearly impossible to finish. Kim could add Silva to his list of grinding wins with ease, but if Silva can keep "Stun Gun" at range with kicks and punches, he can turn the tide in his favor.
That's a tough task to accomplish, because Kim always shows up in shape ready to take his opponents down and keep them there. He's been largely successful with this strategy, and Silva lost in very similar fashion to a similar opponent in Fitch. It's up to Silva and his team of coaches to develop a gameplan for combating the top-level wrestlers that populate the top rungs of the 170-pound landscape.
A Silva victory will add fuel to his fire, and could propel him to the big fight people have been waiting to see him in. That's why Kim is the perfect gatekeeper to face at this point in his career. If he can get past the experienced grappler, the world will see that Silva is a force to be reckoned with.
The rising Erick Silva faces a stiff test in the form of Dong Hyun Kim. Can he rise to the next level by avoiding the dominant top game of ‘Stun Gun?'