Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight brawlers Ion Cutelaba and Henrique da Silva will throw down this Sunday (June 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 110 inside Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
These two represent some of the best brawling prospects that Light Heavyweight has to offer. Both men have some decent grappling — Cutelaba is a skilled wrestler, da Silva submitted a black belt in his second fight — but they primarily walk their foes down and trade bombs. Thus far, it’s produced mixed results. Cutelaba and da Silva have been consistently exciting, but they’re a combined 3-4 in their UFC tenure. Luckily, they’re both young, 23 and 27 years old respectively, so these scrappers are still worth-watching as their careers develop.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Record: 12-3 (1)
Key Wins: Jonathon Wilson (UFC Fight Night 96)
Key Losses: Misha Cirkunov (UFC Fight Night 89), Jared Cannonier (UFC TUF 24 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Cutelaba spent most of his career on the regional Eastern European scene, where his background in Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo, and Judo allowed him to dominate. On the feet, Cutelaba is an aggressive puncher who throws hard shots at a high volume.
On the feet, this is a toss up that slight favors the Brazilian. Both men throw with power and have never been knocked out, so anything could happen, but it would be a really bad choice for Cutelaba to brawl.
His wrestling is too good.
Da Silva has struggled heavily with the takedowns of his opponent in his last two bouts. Opposite Paul Craig, he basically gave away an easy submission simply because he was so fatigued from the constant grappling.
Cutelaba has the physical strength and wrestling technique to ragdoll his opponent. So long as he focuses on maintaining top position — something he struggled with in his last bout — he should be able to wear da Silva down and do big damage on the mat.
Henrique da Silva
Key Wins: Joachim Christensen (UFC Fight Night 96), Jonothan Wilson (UFC 199), Ildemar Alcantara (KJC 2)
Key Losses: Paul Craig (UFC on FOX 22), Jordan Johnson (UFC on FOX 23)
Keys to Victory: “Frankenstein” is a violent man. The jiu-jitsu purple belt has finished 11 of his opponents via knockout, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s one of the most aggressive competitors in his division.
In this bout, da Silva’s experience in longer fights should help him out. He may not have won his last two bouts, but da Silva has won numerous fights in the second half of the bout, outlasting his opponent and generating power despite his own fatigue.
Cutelaba has no idea how to pace himself, so that’s a really viable path to victory for the Brazilian.
Early on, it’s a near guarantee that Cutelaba will pressure with bombs and power takedowns. Da Silva may have a hard time defending those shots early, but that doesn’t really matter so long as he immediately begins working back to his feet.
If Cutelaba is forced keep slamming da Silva only to have him scramble back up, he will exhaust himself quickly. Da Silva may be tired to, but that’s where his experience in wars of attrition should help him shine. Additionally, fatigued wrestlers like to hang around in the clinch, an area where da Silva is skilled at landing heavy shots.
Bottom Line: It’s a brawl between solid prospects.
Despite their pedestrian records, the UFC needs Light Heavyweights like Cutelaba and da Silva. The potential for them to grow into real contenders definitely exists, but even if that doesn’t pan out, they can serve as tests for other up-and-comers.
Basically, the loser should still have a spot on the roster come Monday morning.
Meanwhile, whoever comes out on top of this brawl can expect to move up the ladder a bit. Development between fights is expected of prospects like this, so there’s a chance the winner could emerge as a better fighter than expected. Plus, Light Heavyweight doesn’t have a ton of depth. Jared Cannonier outperformed expectations opposite Cutelaba and immediately faced a top five opponent as a result, and the same is possible for the winner of this match up.
At UFC Fight Night 110, Ion Cutelaba and Henrique da Silva will slug it out on the main card. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?