Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight knockout artists Joaquim Silva and Nasrat Haqparast will duel this Saturday (August 3, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 5 from inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Appearances are a funny thing in mixed martial arts (MMA). One look at Brazilian powerhouse Joaquim Silva and his giant upper body seem to imply a heavy puncher who probably slows terribly late in a fight. That assumption would only be half-correct, as two of Silva’s last three fights were decided in his favor by his ability to skillfully land brutal shots in the final frame. Meanwhile, Haqparast looks almost exactly like a miniature Kelvin Gastelum ... and there are some other accurate comparisons to be made there. Haqparast cannot mach his doppelganger’s picture-perfect and deadly one-two combination, but both Southpaws can overwhelm their competition with blistering hand speed.
Let’s go beyond looks and take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Jared Gordon (UFC on FOX 31), Reza Madadi (UFC Fight Night 109), Nazareno Malegarie (UFC 191)
Key Losses: Vinc Pichel (UFC on FOX 27)
Keys to Victory: As the level of competition has increased, Silva has found himself relying on his hands more and more often. The Brazilian has finished nine of his 11 victories, and he does hold a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Naqparast’s advantage here — his advantage over most of the division — is hand speed. The German Lightweight is damn fast, and speed is often the deciding factor in who lands during stand up exchanges.
There are definite do’s and don’ts of fighting a faster opponent. First and foremost, it’s important note to rely on the counter. The slower man must initiate, otherwise he’ll remain a step behind. In addition, that physical advantage can be chipped away with fatigue, and perhaps the easiest way to encourage fatigue is to attack the body and legs.
Lastly, Silva’s nickname is “Netto BJJ.” His opponent’s sole losses are to grapplers. Even if doesn’t work out fully, Silva should at least be trying to mix takedowns into his offense.
Key Wins: Marc Diakiese (UFC Fight Night 134), Thibault Gouti (UFC Fight Night 138)
Key Losses: Marcin Held (UFC Fight Night 118)
Keys to Victory: At 23 years of age, Haqparast is one of the better prospects at 155 pounds — and there’s a lot of them. His speed has been mentioned a few times already, but he pairs that speed with a strong understanding of Southpaw kickboxing and solid defensive wrestling.
Plus, he can maintain his pace for the full 15 minutes.
This is a serious step up in competition, perhaps the first foe who Haqparast has faced who can match his athleticism on some level. As such, Haqparast likely cannot merely overwhelm Silva from the first exchange and cruise from there.
If there’s one aspect of the fight that I’d like to see Haqparast focus on, it’s feints. Silva is a power striker who loads up to deliver big shots. The more Haqparast feints, the more likely Silva is to swing wide at air. Not only is that exhausting, but it should create Haqparast opportunities to land safely as Silva recovers his positioning.
Bottom Line: Two high-action Lightweights are looking to break free of the talented pack.
Silva is a bruiser. The Brazilian hits damn hard and has proven power late in the fight — that alone makes him a threat to a lot of fighters. Furthermore, his defensive wrestling seems to be catching up to the rest of his game, allowing him to force his preferred style of fighting on more opponents.
If Silva puts it all together and wins here, he may be ready for a ranked foe.
Haqparast has been brought along slowly, which is good given his age, talent, and the depth of the 155-pound division. This is his first major step up in competition, and the result will be telling. If he wins this early in his career, the sky really is the limit. If not, it doesn’t spell doom for his career, but it confirms that Haqparast needs more time in the cage.
At UFC on ESPN 5, Joaquim Silva and Nasrat Haqparast will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?