Friday's UFC on FX 3 show will host a main-card welterweight bout between The AMA Fight Club's Charlie Brenneman vs. Erick Silva. The Flyweight Tournament semifinal will conclude in the headliner, which pits Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall in a rematch after their disappointing draw and score-tallying blunder.
Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman (15-3) has been in the UFC since the dawn of 2010, but didn't stamp his name into the annals of MMA until his fairy-tale upset over Rick Story. With about a day to prepare, Brenneman out-wrestled the surging Story, whose stock had just shot up by defeating Thiago Alves, in an inspirational unanimous decision that was worthy of an 80's-movie "slow clap."
Having debuted in the Octagon with an 11-1 record (losing only to former UFCer John Howard), Brenneman split his first pair with a decision win over Jason High and a TKO loss to top-shelfer Johny Hendricks. The emotional performance against Story made for consecutive victories (he defeated Amilcar Alves by decision) and a career-defining moment, but a short-lived one. Brenneman would go on to suffer another TKO loss, this time at the hands of Anthony Johnson. He got back on track in his last with a hard-earned decision over Daniel Roberts.
More UFC on FX 3 Dissections
Brazilian Erick Silva (13-2) was featured on the Bloody Elbow Scouting Report as the 3rd-rated welterweight prospect in 2010. Thus far, he's taken the UFC by storm with thunderous 1st-round TKOs over Luis Ramos and Carlo Prater, though Silva was controversially disqualified for illegal blows to the back of head in the latter. That, a 2010 No Contest for an illegal knee and a 2006 decision loss to Mario Neto are the only imperfections on his record.
"Indio" trains with the ultra-elite fighters at Team Nogueira and is known for his devastating striking, yet holds a black belt in BJJ and Judo and has finished 7 of his 13 wins by submission (with 3 TKOs). The 27-year-old is explosive and aggressive, and many feel he has the overall set of skills to become a legit contender. Having demonstrated his striking and submission grappling prowess, Silva's sprawl and takedown defense are untested at the top level, but that will change tonight when he encounters the relentless wrestling of Brenneman.
Continued in the full entry.
Since Brenneman's wrestling is by far his biggest strength and an important factor in all of his fights, let's revisit an overview on his background from our resident wrestling guru, Mike Riordan:
In 2004 Brenneman was one match away from placing top 8 (being an All American) at 157. This is a major accomplishment and the round of 12 is the deepest that many MMA notables have lasted into the NCAAs, including Urijah Faber, Frankie Edgar, and Scott Jorgensen. Brenneman did the best he could in his final All-American bid -- he had the unenviable task of facing future world-team member Travis Paulson, and he was eliminated in the round of 12 by none other than a freshman named Johny Hendricks.
Many fighters have a foundation in a singular combat style, but "The Spaniard" is a wrestler to the very core and almost all of his tactics and intentions revolve around implementing his power doubles. On the mat, he's got ultra-heavy hips and good control; he maximizes his ground-time to the fullest after securing a takedown by always maintaining a strong position. His ground and pound is more steady and methodical than voracious and he showed a decent grasp of submission defense against Daniel Roberts, though he was ensnared in a few threatening attempts.
Exchanging on the feet is where Brenneman gets in trouble. Striking is just his weakest aspect: his punches and defense are loose and wide, he has the tendency to telegraph his right hand and his head position is fairly predictable when trading strikes or shooting takedowns. He has, however, made good strides in setting up his takedowns with strikes and his fight with Story is a fitting example.
In what seems to be a repetitive theme for this card, Brenneman's chances all hinge on his ability to dart into range and work his wrestling at close range. When his opponent is anticipating his shots or shucks a few off, Brenneman adjusts by first forcing a clinch and then controlling and attacking the hips, but he seems to be more comfortable when dropping levels and exploding for singles and doubles from outside.
Silva is not your typical Brazilian -- pre-UFC, he's pursued takedowns of his own, his Judo background gives him a powerful set of hips in the clinch and, overall, he's a very strong and physical fighter. Standing, he's fluid with his footwork and stance and throws out a ton of angles to set up his combinations. He also changes gears well by starting out with lateral motion and picking away with occasional punches, then vaulting straight forward with a mean left hook and a massive overhand. Even though he hasn't been on his back in the Octagon, his BJJ credentials, past performances and training environment would indicate that he'll have the edge with submissions, though the transition and scramble game is a toss-up, as Brenneman's control and strong base is formidable.
It seems as simple as this: Brenneman must shrink the gap without taking damage, power Silva to the canvas and stay as busy as possible while avoiding Silva's submissions. The fact that Brenneman's striking and free-movement fundamentals are so behind his wrestling and that he's not a finisher (8 wins by decision, 5 TKOs, 2 subs) have me leaning toward Silva here. "The Spaniard" has typically struggled with power-punchers that he can't bully around and, while Silva might not win a straight wrestling match, his footwork, angles, striking and robust clinch game should allow him to stay upright and exploit Brenneman's porous defense.
My Prediction: Erick Silva by TKO.