James Irvin: Quinton Jackson, Scott Smith Hit Harder Than Anderson Silva

So sayeth "The Sandman":

“I just don’t see myself losing,” Irvin said. “I’m expecting to take a lot of damage. I’m expecting to eat a lot of his shots, but I’ve sparred and trained with guys who hit a lot harder than he hits. I’d rather take three or four of his punches than fight someone like Quinton Jackson, who will just knock you out with either hand.

“I don’t think he has that kind of knockout power. I really don’t think he does. I’m not taking anything away from him, because he’s so well-rounded, but I don’t think he has that heavy handed punching power that someone like Scott Smith or Quinton Jackson does.”

On some level this is correct, although perhaps not for Smith. I can imagine that in terms of sheer punching power a guy like Rampage might be the stronger guy. But punching power isn't just raw power; it's also a product of technique. And on that account, Silva doesn't have many peers. Much is made of Silva's precision and while that's true, part of that can be accounted for by his economical striking. He doesn't have excess movement or throw lots of busy shots. That's partly why he was able to steamroll guys with iron chins like Chris Leben. Not only were the punches on the button, they were timed well and were thrown straight down the middle, emanating from the feet through the hips and ultimately into his hands. It's very sharp, very clean striking. From that, you can generate significantly more power than you would just trying to "punch hard". Silva is able to maximize his physical tools in that respect.

So while Rampage might have more natural physical power, I suspect Silva is able to compensate for what he lacks in that department with respectable strength and significantly better technique. Irvin might be very surprised at how hard Silva's strikes actually are.

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