Two uniquely talented welterweights will square off this Saturday night (June 8, 2013) as devastating finisher Erick Silva takes on powerful wrestler Jason High on the UFC on Fuel TV 10 main card in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Record: 14-3 (1 No Contest) overall, 2-2 in the UFC
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 at UFC 134, knocking out veteran Shooto Brazil welterweight champion Luis Ramos in just 40 seconds. It appeared that his next bout was going to go the same way when he finished Carlo Prater via strikes in just 29 seconds but the referee disqualified him for ignoring his warnings and landing hammer strikes to the back of the head.
Fans still saw him as a wrecking machine with 1:09 of Octagon experience and viewed his fight against Prater as a win (similar to Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill). He proved it against Charlie Brenneman, surviving a takedown and turning the tide while submitting "The Spaniard" early in the first round.
The victory earned him a massive fight against Jon Fitch, one of the biggest names on the entire UFC welterweight roster, but despite Silva's best efforts, he could not stop Fitch's takedowns and insane top control pressure, losing a decision in a "Fight of the Night" performance.
After pulling out of a UFC 156 fight due to injury, Silva is back and hoping to redeem himself against another wrestler.
How he gets it done: Silva is extremely talented, but it takes more than that if you want to beat Jason High. Takedown defense is absolutely vital in this bout. The Brazilian cannot recklessly charge in guns blazing or he's going to get taken down and kept there for an extended period of time.
Silva has a pretty solid striking advantage, but he has to be cautious. He should be looking for an opening in High's defense and try to crack him with a big right hand or potentially a knee if he shoots in. As evidenced by the Hieron and Zaromskis fights, if you catch High with a heavy shot he doesn't see coming, you can hurt him badly.
If the fight goes to the ground, even though it's High's strength, I don't expect Silva to panic. He has both a judo and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. If he can't lock up a submission or a sweep within the first 20-30 seconds, he needs to work immediately to get back to his feet. While Silva was able to survive a decision against Jon Fitch in his last bout, he does not want to stay stuck on his back for any extended period of time here.
Record: 16-3 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
How he got here: High began his career in 2005 on the local Midwestern circuit, quickly jumping off to a 7-0 record, which drew the attention of the Affliction matchmakers, who paired him up against UFC veteran Jay Hieron. "The Kansas City Bandit" was a bit overwhelmed in his first major test, however, getting knocked out in 1:04.
He bounced back in Japan, competing in the Dream welterweight Grand Prix, advancing all the way to the finals before losing to champion Marius Zaromskis. Despite the loss, he was given an opportunity to compete in the UFC on short notice, battling Charlie Brenneman on a Fight Night card and losing a decision to the wrestler.
Since that loss, High has been unstoppable, most impressively knocking off Jordan Mein in his comeback fight. A three fight stretch in Strikeforce earned him three more wins, including a lightning fast 26 second guillotine choke victory over Nate Moore, answering his critics who felt he didn't finish enough fights.
He stepped in for the injured John Hathaway to take on Silva, hoping to redeem himself for his UFC debut over three years ago.
How he gets it done: High needs to treat this fight just like when he fought talented striker Jordan Mein, which is taking him down over and over. Silva possesses a lethal combination of striking skills both with his hands and feet, so don't expect "The Kansas City Bandit" to screw around with him for long in that department.
Expect High to shoot in early and often, trying to take away Silva's weapons by putting the Brazilian on his back repeatedly and stifling his offensive game with smothering top control. If an opportunity presents itself, High can go for a submission, but more than likely he'll be dropping occasional ground and pound shots in an effort to keep the bout on the canvas and avoid stand-ups.
If he can't explode for a power double, High might clinch instead, working to maneuver Silva around the Octagon and drag him to the floor. He absolutely can not stay in the pocket and screw around on the feet. That's only inviting disaster.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 10? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!