One of the most explosive Welterweight hopefuls in mixed martial arts (MMA), Erick Silva, looks to take out gritty brawler, Matt Brown, this Saturday night (May 10, 2014) at in UFC Fight Night 40's main event from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
After capturing and defending the Jungle Fight crown, Silva was picked up by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for its first Brazilian event since 1998. Facing another former regional champion in Luis Ramos, Silva showed little respect and earned the third knockout victory of his MMA career.
Since his Octagon debut, however, Silva has alternated wins and losses. In his wins, "Indio" looks unstoppable and thoroughly outclasses his opponents. Unfortunately, his steps up in competition have resulted in some tough losses.
Can he build a new win streak against a fellow slugger in Brown?
Let's find out.
Silva is an extremely fast and powerful fighter. Utilizing a wide, karate-style stance, Silva can leap in and out with heavy strikes. He's not much of a combination striker, preferring to attack with one or two strikes at a time while at kickboxing range.
The reason that Silva's single strike attack works well is his speed and feints. From the outside, he's constantly flicking his hands forward, twitching his hips, or threatening a spin. While he does this, he measures his opponent's reaction. He often lets his opponent throw a few strikes first as well, using those to help him gauge distance.
After he starts to establish his range, Silva will immediately go on a full offensive. Regardless of whether he throws a punch or kick, the Brazilian throws with the intent to finish. In addition, he throws at a fairly fast pace, making up for his lack of combinations with volume.
Despite facing men who are quite intent on dragging him to the mat, Silva manages to land strong kicks. His roundhouse kicks, normally aimed at the legs or body, are damaging. Against Takenori Sato, Silva dug his toes into his opponent's mid-section, which clearly affected the outmatched fighter. Silva also throws a hard front kick, which helps stand up hunched over wrestlers looking for the shot.
It's very risky, but Silva consistently attacks with the spinning back kick. Silva makes the strike work by being very difficult to hold down, meaning that it's not worth it for his opponent to absorb one and get a takedown with no control in return. This was clear against Charlie Brenneman, as the wrestler shot a slow double after getting hit with a fatiguing spinning back kick near the end of the first round. Tired from the strike, Brenneman was easy pickings to Silva's excellent submission game.
Though it's not very complicated, Silva's boxing game is dangerous. He loves to leap forward with a vicious overhand, especially if his opponent is trapped against the cage. He hides the strike well amongst his feints. Additionally, Silva will try a long left hook and sometimes follows it up with the overhand. Against Dong Hyun Kim, Silva often tried to use a counter uppercut to repel the South Korean's clinch attempts.
Because of his stance and control of distance, Silva is often able to see his opponent's takedown attempts coming. When this happens, Silva does not prepare to sprawl. Instead, he explodes into a counter knee to the body. Like the spinning back kick, it hurts his opponent's gas tank, and he's usually able to return to his feet in the scramble.
When Silva engages in a clinch fight, he's very active. Silva likes to throw a stream of knees or uppercuts, manhandling his opponent with a combination of Muay Thai and Judo skills.
Silva is not a very good defensive fighter. He shows his opponent very little respect and gets away with it due to athletic ability, but that fades as the fight progresses. He also keeps his hands very low, which can result in counters like "Stun Gun's" brutal victory over the Brazilian.
A black belt in Judo, Silva is a very strong wrestler. He's difficult to take down and even harder to control. Plus, he mixes slick trips into his attack during the transition between striking and the clinch.
While in the clinch, Silva uses his opponent's forward momentum against him. As his opponent desperately looks to close the distance and avoid Silva's power, "Indio" will shift to the side and work a foot sweep. He's also very good at using underhooks while against the fence to work around to his opponent's back.
Defensively, Silva is one of the best at doing damage while his opponent tries to take him down. In addition to the step knee takedown counter, Silva constantly works over his opponent with punches. He creates a tremendous amount of power while sprawling or bouncing around, ripping punches to his opponent's head or body. Even when pinned against the cage, Silva will hammer away with whatever is available, from Travis Browne-esque side elbows to liver punches. He also tried bizarre little heel kicks to the face as Sato tried to single leg him.
As more than a couple fighters have discovered, shooting in on Silva while hurt or tired is not a great plan. After getting knocked back by Silva's step knee, Carlos Prater tried to force a single leg takedown. As he attempted to drive forward, Silva landed a flurry of punches to the side of his head. Prater fell back, rocked, and was finished by a series of hard punches. Despite the official ruling of No Contest, this fight proved early in Silva's career that he's dangerous in all positions.
Silva has incredibly strong hips. This attribute lets him sprawl out on most double leg attempts, but he has more difficulty when his opponent chains takedowns and wrestles at an angle.
Once his ass hits the mat, Silva starts to spring to his feet regardless of his opponent's attempts to control him. Silva just frames and stands, overpowering his opponent despite being in a worse position. For example, the master of top control Jon Fitch had an extremely difficult time hanging onto Erick Silva in the first round, as the Brazilian shook him off repeatedly from positions like turtle and back control. That's Fitch's wheelhouse, but a fresh Silva was thoroughly unconcerned.
Silva earned his black belt as part of Team Nogueira and has finished nine of his opponent's via submission. The Brazilian is very active with his submission attempts, especially when he gets to the back.
It's pretty clear that Silva's preferred position is the back mount. Whenever he sprawls out on a shot, he quickly attempts to slide around to the back. He's very good at trapping an arm, as he managed to momentarily secure a crucifix on Fitch. In addition, a trapped arm from back mount eventually led to his triangle/armbar combination of Jason High.
Once Silva hooks his opponent's arm, "Indio" waits for him to attempt to free the arm. Once his opponent's focus shifts to his arm, Silva tries to force his forearm under the neck for the choke. He really throws his body into the choke and is willing to abandon hip control in chase of the neck.
This almost cost him against Jason High, who attempted to slip out the back door. However, Silva quickly transitioned to a triangle. From there, he adjusted, gripped High's arm, and went belly down. "The Kansas City Bandit" was seriously stuck and had little choice but to submit. This submission is an example of Silva's strength and skill, as a majority of fighters slide off the back once they get too high.
Silva has shown some proficiency with footlocks and finished an opponent in Jungle Fight with a kneebar. In the UFC, he has used them to cause scrambles and stand up quite well. For example, Silva used a rolling knee bar to loosen Charlie Brenneman's grip on him. When "The Spaniard" tried to defend, he grabbed a twisting footlock. The defense to that submission is to roll and kick away from the attacker -- which Brenneman hurriedly did -- giving Silva more than enough space to stand.
The one guard Silva has showed some talent with is the deep half, which should be expected of a Nogueira student. Against Kim, Silva nearly rolled up on the smothering "Stun Gun" after destabilizing his base with the deep half. After that failed, he switched to a footlock and almost returned to his feet. Both techniques were well executed, but Kim is very strong from the top.
On the defensive, Silva showed some serious grit and technique against Fitch. Even while heavily fatigued, Silva managed to hip escape enough to avoid getting stopped from the mount. Plus, he managed to defend an armbar attempt from the Purdue wrestler by quickly spinning out.
Best Chance For Success
Knowing Silva, he'll almost certainly enter the cage with the intention of swinging for the knockout. However, that's a risky plan, considering Brown's chin and striking prowess. Instead, Silva should look to capitalize on his biggest advantage, which would be his dangerous submission game.
To drag Brown to the mat, Silva would be wise to switch up his takedown style a bit. Brown is a competent Judoka himself and also uses foot sweeps and trips, so those probably will not work well against him. Instead, Silva should use his footwork to circle as Brown pursues him and trap "The Immortal" against the cage.
From there, a big overhand into a double leg should work just fine.
If Silva fails to drag Brown to the mat, he'd be wise to attack with his body kicks, spinning or otherwise. Jordan Mein managed to seriously hurt Brown with a gorgeous left hook to the liver, dropping Brown to the mat. Kicks hurt quite a bit worse than punches and Silva only needs one opportunity on the ground to secure victory.
Can Silva begin a run toward the title or will Brown record his eighth straight win in front of his hometown crowd?