Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight standouts Neil Magny and Erick Silva will battle this Sunday (Aug. 23, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 74 inside SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Magny had a pretty stellar 2014, winning five straight fights. He began this year strong as well -- finishing a pair of opponents -- before running into Demian Maia and his brand of amazing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Just a few weeks later, Magny is looking to rebound.
After alternating wins and losses for a couple years, Silva is once again on a win streak. Now, he'll look to finally break into the Top 15, a status he's been flirting with for some time now.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Hyun Gyu Lim (UFC Fight Night 66), Alex Garcia (UFC Fight Night 49), Tim Means (UFC Fight Night 40)
Key Losses: Demian Maia (UFC 190), Sergio Moraes (UFC 163)
Keys to Victory: Magny has improved greatly since he first entered the Octagon. Nowadays, he's a very active boxer who utilizes his range quite well and is an underrated wrestler that specializes in the clinch. And in defense of his jiu-jitsu, Magny did a nice job trying to technically defend and time explosions while beneath Maia.
It just didn't work.
Much like his bout with Lim, Magny is facing a very dangerous finisher ... for about one round. Then, Silva's gas tank and technique quickly abandon him, and he's both vulnerable and often ineffective.
While Magny managed to avoid an early scare from "Ace," he might not be able to do the same against Silva. The Brazilian may have his flaws, but his a vicious finisher with both his strikes and ground game.
Therefore, it's especially important that Magny is sharp from start to finish, as there isn't much room for error. Magny needs to constantly be on the outside, where he can work his straight punches, or in the clinch, where takedown attempts and knee wills tire Silva.
Either way, Magny cannot stand flat-footed at range early on, as Silva won't ever give him the chance to capitalize on his flaws.
Record: 18-5 (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 a fairly unique fighter in numerous ways. For starters, his victories aren't all that impressive in terms of relevant names and wouldn't really warrant the respect he gets as a fighter on their own. However, he also came very close to finishing each of the men that beat him and does usually win in spectacular fashion.
While there are some interesting facets to Silva's game -- like his foot sweeps in the clinch or snap kicks to the mid-section -- his M.O. is fairly common: Go all-out early in search of the finish. With his combination of kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and athleticism, that's a dangerous man inside the Octagon.
As is usually the case, Silva probably needs the first round finish to win. Magny has been submitted in three of his four losses, so the Brazilian's path to victory seems to be pretty clear.
On his feet, Silva should bide his time until an opportunity to clinch or shoot arises. While on the outside, those snap kicks could definitely be useful. Regardless, Silva eventually needs to duck under a jab and get in close.
Once on top, Silva manages to find opportunities. He's explosive with his ground strikes and grappling maneuvers, so this is his best chance to scoring a big finish.
Bottom Line: This is a very important fight for both men that determines their current position in the division.
For Magny, this is a chance to bounce back. The Maia loss may have stolen some momentum, but Maia is a unique and difficult challenge for much of the division. If Magny can return to the win column here, he'll be back in position to climb the ranks toward the title mix.
On the other hand, a second loss would evict Magny from the rankings. While impressive, his win streak wasn't over the strongest fighters in the division, so some might -- wrongly, in my opinion -- even question his improvements.
At some point, Silva will stop getting opportunities to step up. Both his original opponent, Rick Story, and Magny are ranked fighters, something Silva has yet to successfully defeat. If he fails again, he might need to do more than demolish one or two utterly outmatched opponents this time around.
Alternatively, a win shows that there's some truth to Silva's hyped up potential. The Brazilian is undoubtedly skilled and violent, and a big win here could be the start of a streak.
At UFC Fight Night 74, Neil Magny and Erick Silva will go head-to-head in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?