When we last left our heroes...Hamill entered the UFC in only his 2nd fight. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Perhaps that's why they made some lame and Lifetime movie about him. But no matter how bad the acting representing his story is, it's an uplifting one regardless. Despite a return from retirement.
While Hamill never became a contender, he was good enough to stay in the UFC for awhile, and still has Mark Munoz' severed head on a pike to prove it.
The great thing about this matchup is that it's pure white hat, black hat stuff. Whereas we always sort of rooted for Hamill, we've come to loathe Silva's. He got busted for steroids at UFC 125, and would get popped again at UFC on Fuel TV 6 for marijuana. Stupid drug laws aside, it was a dumb thing to do given his history.
Why both men can do: It's kind of hard to laud Hamill's ability. He doesn't have many. His qualities are abstract, but tangible enough to make a difference. He moves forward in a way that confounds opponents. Again, see the Michael Bisping fight for what I'm talking about.
He's got a strong takedown, and swings a decent enough right hand. Like most wrestlers, his raw power takes him places he doesn't belong, but it has served him well.
As for Silva, he's got much more to offer. I was never that impressed with him early on. His last name seemed more credible than his actual ability. But as he's grown (in more unnatural ways than one), he's developed into a much more polished striker befitting of the scary gestures he's known for after a win.
One of his advantages is his reach. He's got a solid wingspan that he takes advantage of, and has become more than just a clumsy right hand over the years. However, aside from his versatile striking, he's one of the more dynamic grapplers you'd never suspect is considered 'dynamic'. He has a brilliant halfguard ala Shogun, and can do a tone of damage from top control.
What both men can't do: Having said that, Silva is still a bit out of control. While he won't get punished for it in this fight, it's still his primary weakness; a lack of defense. The problem here is that this fight isn't competitive in the slightest. I'd like to play devil's advocate and envision a world where Hamill can threaten Silva so we get to see a competitive match, but Hamill has always been just as open to getting deep sixed as Silva.
In addition, Hamill no longer powers through with his takedowns. He's a blast from the "wrestlers who like to think they're strikers" past. He tests his striking out way more than he should, though to be fair, his last three opponents were stellar when you think about it. Even in Rampage's diminished state, Hamill was a chore.
It's possible we see the same here, but Silva's brute force should be more than enough. Honestly I really like Silva's submission game to take over. Once he gets top control I see him cutting up Hamill's guard, or just unloading the Brandon Vera bongo drums to a TKO win.
X-Factor: Silva is the proprietor of two No Contests in his last four bouts. He's been popped for steroids, and marijuana, which means that the only logical next step given marijuana's harmful gateway drug effect will cause Thiago Silva to be the only UFC fighter to ever get busted for ecstasy, retroactively explaining why this bout contained a gross overuse of spooning.
Prediction: Thiago Silva by not No Contest.