Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Erick Silva and Josh Koscheck will clash this Saturday night (March 21, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 62 on FOX Sports 1 from inside Ginásio do Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Silva may be consistent -- he's technically alternated wins and losses for his entire UFC career -- but he's not finding consistent success. Against Koscheck, Silva will look to start his first win streak and capitalize on some of his potential.
Koscheck has a history of stepping in on short notice and be willing to fight just about anyone, but this may be his riskiest move yet. After getting choked out by Jake Ellenberger in his return bout, the former title challenger is in dire need of a victory.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter.
Record: 17-5 (1)
Key Wins: Jason High (UFC on FUEL TV 10), Charlie Brenneman (UFC on FX 3), Mike Rhodes (UFC Fight Night 58)
Key Losses: Jon Fitch (UFC 153), Dong Hyun Kim (UFC Fight Night 29), Matt Brown (UFC Fight Night 40)
Keys to Victory: Silva is one of the most athletically gifted fighters in the division. He also has a penchant for flashy techniques, both standing and on the mat. Above all else, the Brazilian is a finisher, as just three of his victories came via decision.
After being defeated by Jon Fitch in an excellent scrap back in 2012, Silva has tweaked his style a bit in order to defeat wrestlers. It showed against Dong Hyun Kim, as Silva was actually doing quite well before getting plastered by a monstrous punch in the second round.
Silva's key for this fight is to make Koscheck desperate. "Kos" may have fallen in love with his right hand over the latter portion of his career, but he's well aware that striking with Silva will likely result in another swollen eye.
Koscheck will pursue the takedown with fairly reckless abandon. Instead of going for risky maneuvers that could land him on his back -- like flying knees or pulling guard with submission -- Silva just needs to consistently prevent the early takedown.
As the takedown is denied, Koscheck gets more desperate, and he puts himself in worse positions. If Silva does not allow his opponent any early confidence, then opportunities to finish will present themselves.
Key Wins: Mike Pierce (UFC 143), Matt Hughes (UFC 135), Anthony Johnson (UFC 106)
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (UFC 167), Robbie Lawler (UFC 157), Johny Hendricks (UFC on FOX 3)
Keys to Victory: An extremely dynamic wrestler with one of the best double legs in the sport's history, Koscheck's career is in pretty dire straits. He hasn't won a fight since the beginning of 2012, and even though his last four losses came to some of the division's best, that's still a tough streak of defeats.
In order to stop his current slide, Koscheck needs to wear out his opponent. For all the current issues Koscheck has, conditioning is not one of his flaws nor has it ever been. If he can tire out the Brazilian things will get much, much easier for him.
Early on, "Indio" is extremely dangerous, and Koscheck has to be aware of that. If he opens the bout by spamming his overhand or double legs, he's very likely to be put to sleep in one way or another.
To defeat Silva, Koscheck needs to be patient. Silva is a very aggressive fighter and will not wait long to pursue him. Once Silva looks to throw some heated punches, Koscheck has an opportunity to change levels and blast his opponent across the Octagon.
The danger to this game plan is Silva's kicks. If the Brazilian chooses to stay at range and fire off hard kicks, Koscheck could be in trouble. In that situation, Koscheck has to counter those kicks and force Silva to abandon them, either by catching them and attempting a takedown or by swinging an overhand towards his opponent.
Bottom Line: This bout is very important to the careers of both men.
Silva has largely been a disappointment thus far. After lighting the world on fire in his first three fights, he has yet to really accomplish much inside the Octagon. Frustratingly, Silva has absolutely fantastic moments, even in his losses. If the 30-year-old fighter is defeated here, it's an very clear sign that he will never be a contender.
Should Silva defeat his opponent and look good doing so, it's a nice start. There's no need to feed Silva another fighter far from the rankings, so a match up with someone just outside the top 10 would make sense. Then, Silva could finally break into the top 15.
Koscheck has been fighting the best welterweights in the world for a very long time. Recently, he's been losing to them, and Erick Silva is his first step back in some time. If Koscheck can still win at this level, it's realistic that he could continue to compete inside the Octagon if matched smartly.
Alternatively, "Kos" is near the end of his career anyway. I doubt the UFC would cut him, but he could soon find himself forcibly relocated to commentating. In the end, that might not be such a terrible thing.
He's had a hell of a career.
At UFC Fight Night 62, Erick Silva and Josh Koscheck will go to war. Which welterweight veteran will leave the Octagon with a victory?