When Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva meet in the octagon this Saturday at UFC 146, both fighters will have plenty at stake.
For Velasquez, who’s fighting for the first time since losing the heavyweight championship six months ago, this is his opportunity to bounce back strong. It’s conceivable that a victory, especially a dominant one, would likely earn him a shot at the belt.
For Silva, who’s coming over from Strikeforce to make his UFC debut, this is his opportunity at an immediate statement victory. Win this fight, and not only will he have made a giant splash, he’ll be right in the thick of the title hunt.
Clearly, a lot is on the line for both men. Below is a breakdown of the matchup:
Striking advantage: Velasquez While it’s probably true that “Bigfoot” hits harder than Velasquez, Velasquez’s hands aren’t weak. Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira know this. What really gives Velasquez the edge here is his speed and quickness. He’s on different level than Silva, and Velasquez should find the creases in the big man’s defense to land punches effectively.
Wrestling advantage: Velasquez This needs no explanation. Velasquez is a former collegiate All-American. Does Silva even pay attention to wrestling much?
Submissions advantage: Silva In nine career victories, Velasquez has never made anybody tap. By that logic alone, Silva would get the nod. Silva is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu. This is one area Velasquez would have to be cautious if the fight goes to the ground. Then again, given Velasquez’s clear wrestling advantage, that probably will happen only on his terms.
Strength and conditioning advantage: Velasquez Even with Silva possessing a strength advantage, Velasquez’s conditioning is light years ahead of all heavyweights. Velasquez can hang with middleweights in the cardio department.
Experience advantage: Push Yes, Silva has nine more fights than Velasquez. However, none of them have come in the UFC, hence the push.
Keys to victory: Silva will have a size advantage, but Velasquez is definitely the better all-around fighter and should give Silva a rude awakening in his first UFC fight. That being said, Velasquez showed weakness against Junior dos Santos with regard to not being able to recover. Silva’s best chance is to catch Velasquez with one of his heavy shots, which, of course, is much easier said than done. … Velasquez should be plenty motivated for this fight and would be wise not to hesitate against Silva like he did vs. dos Santos. Velasquez should be aggressive early to not allow Silva to gain confidence.