Two light heavyweights who have experienced very inconsistent fight schedules battled each other yesterday (Nov. 10, 2012) as Thiago Silva took on unbeaten Stanislav Nedkov in the co-main event of UFC Macau in Macau, China.
Nedkov was looking to remain unbeaten, and he seemingly had found a strategy to neutralize Silva's size and technique advantages, but he couldn't hang on forever.
Despite his best efforts to make the fight ugly, it was only a matter of time until Silva brought back his patented post-fight throat slash.
Early on, Nedkov looked strong, bull-rushing Silva and backing him into the fence where he latched onto the taller, heavier fighter with a body lock in the clinch.
Nedkov didn't do much damage from the position, but he neutralized Silva's punching prowess and his reach, which frustrated the Brazilian.
Silva fought back with short knees on the inside that likely didn't do much damage, but he never really got an opportunity to punish Nedkov due to the fact that he was constantly getting backed into the cage.
Stifling Silva had to be exhausting work because by the midway point of the second round, Nedkov looked to be fading fast. Silva started scoring with heavy leg kicks but he left himself exposed, getting blasted and dropped with a huge hook from Nedkov. The former national champion wrestler couldn't follow up with damage, but it got him in control by the end of the second round.
Perhaps overconfident from the knockdown, Nedkov opened the final round on the feet and did not work his clinch game along the fence. Instead of controlling the stand-up, he allowed Silva to be the aggressor and he was battered with heavy punches and kicks.
After turning away from the onslaught, Nedkov was met with more punishment and then taken down by the Brazilian, where Silva methodically passed to full mount and then sunk in an easy arm triangle choke to force the tap from his exhausted foe.
For Stanislav Nedkov, it wasn't pretty, but he was doing some of the right things to make up for the skill and size disparity against Silva. He closed the distance and didn't allow the Brazilian to land his heavy strikes. His biggest problem was the fact that he didn't actually do anything once he got there. Nedkov wasn't really working for takedowns and he wasn't scoring with dirty boxing in the clinch. He was pretty much just hanging onto to Silva against the cage. The only offense he really got in was the big flurry of hooks to back Silva into the cage. The knockdown was nice at the end of the second round, but he has been hurting before that. When his gas finally ran out, he was done for.
The best plan of action for Nedkov would be to drop to middleweight. He weighed in at 203 and at 5'11, he's one of the smallest light heavyweights on the roster. If he remains at 205, fights against opponents like Roger Hollett, Fabio Maldonado and Igor Pokrajac come to mind as opponents.
For Thiago Silva, he made some key mistakes which put him in hot water in the first two rounds, primarily backing straight up into the fence over and over and over again. He did manage to get some offense in with short knees and the Thai clinch, but it was very ugly and it could have been avoided if he kept getting outmaneuvered with footwork. Getting dropped was entirely his fault as well as he lowered his hands to throw a heavy leg kick. The good thing for him was his gas tank, which outlasted Nedkov and set up and easy finish once his opponent gassed out.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
What did you think of Nedkov's nullifying strategy? Do you think Thiago Silva can ever return to the upper echelon of the light heavyweight division?