Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Efrain Escudero and Leandro Silva will scrap this Saturday (Nov. 21, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 78 inside Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.
For the first time since 2009, Escudero has put together back-to-back UFC victories. Fighting in Mexico for the second time, Escudero will look to extend his win streak and solidify his position inside the UFC.
Silva's UFC career has certainly been strange thus far, including a questionable decision loss and an overturned guillotine "win." Despite the intrigue, none of Silva's fights have been particularly entertaining, so the Brazilian needs to put on a show and make the most of his main card slot.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Drew Dober (UFC 188), Cole Miller (UFC 102), Luis Palomino (CFA 12)
Key Losses: Leonardo Santos (UFC Fight Night 51), Mac Danzig (UFC 145), Jacob Volkmann (UFC 141)
Keys to Victory: Escudero is a fairly well-rounded fighter, though he's definitely a grappler first. A former collegiate wrestler, Escudero has developed an effective Brazilian jiu-jitsu game, submitting 13 of his opponents.
In this bout, Escudero has to be the more active and better conditioned fighter. His opponent is a similarly skilled fighter, but his biggest issue is a lack of volume and inconsistent offense.
To take advantage of that, Escudero needs to push the pace and throw plenty of strikes. Neither man is known for his power, so the fighter who throws and lands more will almost certainly be ahead on the judges scorecards.
In all likelihood, Silva will be biding his time on the feet to score a takedown. That could be a problem for Escudero, who has struggled with being controlled from top position in the past.
The answer to that problem -- at least in this fight -- is conditioning. Silva is a large lightweight that must conserve energy, which is why he's so selective with his strikes and takedowns. If Escudero stays active on the feet and consistently makes him work on the mat, his opponent will begin to slow.
Then, Escudero can take over.
Record: 18-2-1 (1)
Key Wins: Charlie Brenneman (UFC Fight Night 56), Lewis Gonzalez (UFC Fight Night 70)
Key Losses: Francisco Trinaldo (UFC Fight Night 51)
Keys to Victory: Silva is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with Muay Thai experience. One of the larger men in the lightweight division, Silva looks to use his strength to drag his opponents to the mat and lock up a submission.
So far, he's forced 10 of his opponents to tap out.
Silva's objective in this fight is pretty simple. If he can land a few well-timed takedowns, the Brazilian's physical strength and suffocating top game should allow him to control his opponent en route to a victory.
Thus far, this has been Silva's usual strategy, and his match with Escudero should be no different. Top control grappling is the Brazilian's specialty and historically is one of Escudero's weaknesses. It's an excellent strategy for "Buscape," as it allows him to take advantage of his size while giving him a chance to rest from top position.
Not all gameplans need to be complex.
Now, in an ideal world, Silva would work into a dominant position to do damage or land a submission, but Escudero is historically a pretty durable athlete. All in all, there's a fair chance this fights get ugly rather quick.
Bottom Line: Neither man is closing in on the top 15, nor does that seem likely any time soon. Frankly, there are a ton of lightweights on the roster, and this is nothing more than the collision of a pair of well-rounded combatants somewhere in the middle of that group.
If Escudero has a late career surge in him, the time to capitalize is now. He's on a win streak -- including a slick submission win -- and just grew his fan base by coaching a season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). If he can score an impressive victory in this bout, perhaps it will be enough to earn him a high profile bout.
On the bright side, Escudero has some job security now even with a loss. For a man that's been cut twice already, that has to be comforting.
In all honesty, the odds of Silva ever climbing up the rankings seem pretty minuscule. Maybe he'll undergo a dramatic transformation and develop his game rapidly, but at this point, it seems like Silva is destined to remain in the middle for some time.
Win or lose, this fight isn't likely to change that.
At UFC Fight Night 78, Efrain Escudero and Leandro Silva will open the main card. Which fighter will have his hand raised?