Photo: getty images
Anderson Silva has continued to defeat all comers now on his tenth defense of the UFC Middle Weight Belt. Without hesitation Silva has defeated all comers. Currently four new men Bisping, Belcher, Stann, and Lombard are working towards contention. Belcher is on a four fight win streak(recently returning from a very long lay off), Lombard is on a twenty fight win streak (24 fight unbeaten streak, but none were in the UFC), Bisping is coming off a loss to Chael Sonnen, and Stann lost to Chael then recently defeated Allesio Sakara. While all four men are close each man is understandably one or two wins away from a shot to say the least. Instead of putting Anderson on the shelf again who is thirty-seven years old; giving Rashad a shot at the belt makes complete sense.
As seen in his last few fights Evans is far undersized. Though this has given him an advantage in speed in almost every fight hes had. Though a move to Middle weight would mean he would have faster competitors, he would not slow down him self possibly becoming faster do to the loss in weight. Now in review of his contest with current Light Heavy Weight Champion Jon Jones it has become quite obvious Evans' size played a huge role in the loss (not taking away from Jones). Rashad could make another run at Light Heavy Weight, and would likely make it to another shot with Jones, but there are a few actualities that just seem to make that a bad choice.
One: Jon Jones is 24, Anderson Silva is 37, and Rashad is 32.
Two: Silva doesn't have a Wrestling base, Jones does.
Three: Jones does quite well against Wrestlers, Silva has had problems with them.
Four: Rashad might be one of the best boxers Silva would have ever faced.
Five : Rashad is a Small Light Heavy Weight.
Six: Why not? Fight a legend. Win or lose Rashad can go back to Light Heavy Weight.
While Rashad is no spring chicken, he has the upper hand in age against Silva. He will still have a height disadvantage against Silva, but his strength coming into the fight would be arguably greater. Even when far smaller Rashad has managed to defeat men not just with his speed but his power, and strength. His complete control of Thiago Silva, and 'Rampage' Jackson are prime examples; along with the outclassing of Phil Davis (Remember he is still very young, and has only been fighting for the UFC for two years.) a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion who is far larger.
I will discuss in detail why Rashad might be the answer to the Anderson Silva riddle.
The Wrestling of Rashad Evans
Against each of Rashad's last five opponents only four take downs were completed on him by his competitors; while Rashad completed fifteen take downs. Half the take downs that have ever been completed on Thiago Silva are from Rashad. Rashad is the only person to ever take down Phil Davis. Rashad has scored a take down in all but five of his fights.
Rashad on paper isn't considered one of the better wrestlers, but when he gets in the cage his fights tell a far different story. Here against Phil Davis he is attempting to hit a switch and Davis looks to move to his back. Rashad responds with a attempted 'hip over' technique throwing his hips around Davis's; then grabbing the waist and driving Davis down reversing and securing the take down. This is against a guy who a few years ago was one the number one wrestler in his weight class at folk style. Rashad out wrestling Davis is akin to if someone submitting someone like Robert Drysdale in a MMA fight(keyword is Akin/similar).
This single leg finish is awesome Rashad gets really deep with his hips and throws his right arm over Phil's head to create a scissor motion making his leg go right, and his body go down to the left. This allows him to jump right to half guard. Evan's top control is awesome. Understandably Davis doesn't have the most active or dangerous guard being the high level wrestler he is. Still to keep a Wrestler of his Caliber on his back and even later on putting him in a Crucifix is quite the feat, many just do not comprehend the achievement (beating a wrestler in mma, and out wrestling a wrestler of his caliber in a mma contest are far different things).
Against Thiago Rashad postures, and drops right into double leg from the Muay Thai Plum. The posturing halts the throwing of any useful knees on Thiago's behalf, and closes the distance to create the shot. Thiago's scissors his legs to widen them and avoid the take down. When Rashad gets in he connects his hands behind Thiago's left knee and when he yanks the legs in Thiago collapses and his legs 'unscissor' if you will. This is set up by catching a kick. Anderson loves to kick and does constantly in his fights. Rashad can easily get this take down as long as he is cautious.
Anderson defends just like how Thiago does here; shooting his arms in to try and break the grip of his opponent. Rashad tends to lock his hands before ever posturing and cutting the angle for the slam; which isn't always common place in MMA. Fighters can get sloppy or rush it, Rashad while he is fast and explosive sets up take down as to avoid these simple counters. Notice Rashad steps off to the side causing their hips to become perpendicular; then mat returns Thiago digging his right knee deep into Thiago's thigh, and tripping him.
I'd really like to focus on Rashad's transition between his stand up and wrestling essentially his set ups for his take downs. Rashad throws a stiff distraction jab making Thiago think he will follow with a cross. Rashad ducks under the guard and blasts his head into Silva's chest cutting the angle on a dime. This pulls Thiago's legs right out from under him allowing Rashad to pass right into half guard. These set ups are key against a guy like Anderson Silva who is not afraid to throw a unorthodox kick or a knee as Rashad comes in.
Rashad's explosion into the double from the 'one two' is fantastic instead of turning him self Rashad like Khabib in "Analyizing the Ground Game: Khabib the Sambo Savant " uses the corner to turn his opponent cutting the angle after bouncing off the wall. Rashad's use of his head and neck make this whole move possible. As he drives faster and faster forward his head directly points where hes is taking Thiago. As he hits the cage wall Rashad pushes his neck to the right as hard as he can driving Thiago over allowing for the pass, and the control. Anderson has show really good balance especially last night against Chael in the second round, and the cutting of the corner in a double or single wont allow him to get any footing. Essentially taking his great balance out of the question if implemented correctly.
Rampage has a 78% take down defense rate that is among the highest in all of the UFC. Rashad took him down three times in their match. Watch the looping hook to the head Rashad throws to throw off page, but before that watch his foot work. Rashad comes in at angle in front of Rampage, and as soon as he gets in on 'Page's' legs Rashad drives back in the direction he came creating an arc from start to finishing.
This is another example of Rashad driving in very deep and then immediately cutting the angle. Rampage initially has very good footing and would have likely stuffed the attempt by Rashad. Evans realizes this and with his head points it exactly where he wants to put page and blasts rising up to his feet before he puts 'Page' on his back.
The key point of Part one is that Rashad has the speed, power, and technique to put Anderson Silva on his back. Along with all the numbers to back it up against high level and larger opponents. Rashad should be able to implement a wrestling heavy strategy against the Champion like Chael's. Only Rashad has refined his wrestling and transitions from striking to take down far better at this point in his career. These set ups have the makings of something Silva would find quite troubling to defend. Not to mention Rashad has never been submitted, and has been in there with High level grapplers(I'l save that for another part).
He poses a lot more threats than most are willing to admit and as far as name value and Pay per view selling possibilities it could be astronomical. Though we will go into further detail in Part two.
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