When we last left our heroes...After complaining about the way Charles Oliveira had been managed in my earlier preview, a reader emailed his equal displeasure with Erick Silva, feeling that Erick has been another victim of poor management.
However, I would like to disagree for a second. Silva is 29 years old and has been fighting since 2005. He's a veteran in my eyes. While he plays the part of a shiny new prospect, underneath he's essentially the same fighter he's been for years. This doesn't mean he's not a capable elite WW. It just means his destiny is not on the throne otherwise we might have seen a bit more from him earlier in his career.
MMA fighters, with very few exceptions, are no different than most athletes. They endure "primes", and then most either fall victim to slower reflexes and limited recovery, or adjust and find enough success to stay relevant until hanging the gloves. Silva is a young 29, but 29 all the same.
His fight with Jon Fitch came at a decent time, though if I were Silva (Joe that is), I might have given him another bout before Fitch. He was "officially" only 2-1 after all, despite a nonsense call by Mario Yamasaki against Carlo Prater.
Across from him is Pancrase stand out, Takenori Sato. He hasn't lost since 2010, going 8-0-2 since then. He is the officlal welterweight King of Pancrase. The question for Sato is: does that even mean anything in this context?
What both men can do: This is gonna be difficult, to be perfectly honest. Sato is clearly getting this fight based on his last ten fights. This fight is purely to make Silva look good in front of his fellow countrymen.
It's not that Sato is a bad fighter. It's just that he doesn't belong in this fight, and probably not the UFC. I'll stick by those words. I know I know...he's good at something right? Of course he is. For one, his background in Judo is something he applies well in MMA. You don't notice a lot of his Kazushi Sakuraba influence on the ground until he has to defend himself against submissions, where he's good at scrambling in sometimes unorthodox fashion.
If we're pretending Sato has a chance, that could be something of a factor if Silva forgets that the rules allow him to throw punches and defend takedowns. This is the problem for Sato: he has to contend with Silva's quick feet, and raw power in his right hand. Nonetheless, Sato is a solid finisher in the wrestling department because he times his takedowns well, and in the clinch, uses his judo effectively to ensure top control.
What both men can't do: Sato isn't a bad fighter, but he's just so fantastically lacking in dynamism. He's a dinosaur on the feet, and moves like he's trapped in amber.
His punches have modest power when he really puts mustard on them, but he uses his southpaw stance for soft low kicks to set up his takedowns.
While I expect Silva to completely blitzkrieg Sato, Silva has shown a propensity for overcommittment. He lost to Dong Hyun Kim for getting overzealous, which was completely unnecessary. Silva in general is not all that nor a bag of chips when it comes to defensive responsibilities. Nonetheless, his speed and power will allow him to assert himself quickly, and violently. Speed kills, and will kill again tomorrow night.
In-Fight Soundtrack: Do I lose cool points for still really enjoying this album? (Or did I never have them to begin with?)
Prediction: Gordo and his eye gouging tactics won't be enough. Erick Silva by TKO, round 1.