After a hiatus from any major mixed martial arts action over the holiday break, the top two promotions in the world, the UFC and Strikeforce, will go head to head this weekend on Saturday. The UFC will air The Ultimate Fighter 12 Finale with a main event showdown between Stephan Bonnar and Igor Pokrajac while Strikeforce will promote a card featuring Dan Henderson vs. Renato Sobral, Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Lindland, Paul Daley vs. Scott Smith, and Antonio Silva vs. Mike Kyle.
While the disparity in talent is obvious between the two events, the UFC brand will likely garner more interest along with it being a free event on Spike TV. In any case, Strikeforce's match-ups certainly have more relevance within their own divisional rankings, and some of these bouts may have title implications.
The first match-up of the evening that we'll scrutinize is a heavyweight contest pitting Brazilian "Bigfoot" Antonio Silva (14-2, 1-1 SF) as he battles surging UFC, WEC, and Strikeforce veteran Mike Kyle (18-7-1-1, 2-2-1 SF). Silva enters the contest after upsetting Andrei Arlovski back in May at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, but his debut with the promotion saw him drop an unanimous decision loss to Fabricio Werdum in November of last year.
Kyle has been the much busier fighter as he's fought five times this year, amassing a 4-0-1 record in those bouts with only one decision, a split decision victory over King of the Cage champion Tony Lopez. Those fights followed a stint with Strikeforce in 2009 in which he upset rising prospect and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante and lost via submission at the hands of Fabricio Werdum.
While most fans would probably give Kyle a glimmer of hope against the massive size advantage that Antonio Silva holds in this showdown, Kyle has proven that his power can put opponents on ice. Kyle doesn't present the most technical striking game by any means, but mixed martial arts is a sport in which knockout power can be the ultimate x-factor. Kyle has that unpredictable attribute in his arsenal, and it will likely be his means to ending Silva's run to the top.
Silva is a mixed bag of skills as he's a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Judo black belt, and Muay Thai striker. His immense size at heavyweight is his greatest strength, but it's obvious that the cut down to 265 along with carrying that massive load for fifteen to twenty-five minutes takes its toll on his gas tank. Regardless, Silva has proven that he can work an effective gameplan on both the feet and the ground, and that well-roundedness should provide him with multiple ways to finish this fight.
Kyle is a bit of a gamer when it comes to surviving his opposition. He isn't going to move in and out and box his way to victory by way of fleet-footed quickness and compact, speedy punching, but he will attempt to land the crushing knockout blow for three straight rounds. He can also produce that same type of power from top control, so it's a hard sell to believe Silva will recover quickly if he gets rung early.
But Silva has all the advantages when it comes down to comparing physical attributes. He'll be bigger, stronger, and will likely enjoy a reach advantage while also having a technical advantage on the ground. Kyle has proven that his takedown defense is improving, but I'd wager that Silva's strength will wear on Kyle to a point in which he tires out. At that point, Silva should have this fight in the bag in the form of a submission.