Leading with a heavily loaded statement is a great way to lose respect in the MMA community. As we all know, crazy predictions usually don’t pan out, especially within the welterweight division.
Hear me out. Georges St Pierre has a strong test in front of him against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Joining them among the welterweights that night is the co-main eventers in Rory Macdonald vs. Robbie Lawler and Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley. These three matchups speak volumes on how the UFC officials really feel about the top men in the division.
If the UFC is going to throw Lawler in to the top ten after one fight back against Koscheck, and then grant him a shot against Macdonald who is currently ranked third in the world, there is clearly a lack of true contenders at welterweight, which will be a prime opportunity for Erick Silva to make his claim on the ranking list in short order, if he can turn out a dominant performance against Dong Hyun Kim at the next UFC Fight Night (UFN) of course.
Now GSP’s going to get his chin tested and in the past against Mat Serra, and recently against Carlos Condit, he proved he can get put down, and in Serra’s case, put away completely.
But with Hendricks over confidence in his wrestling strength (against GSP that is) and reckless abandon, he’s going to leave many opportunities for GSP to counter takedown the heavy handed #1 contender. Most likely GSP will wrestle his way to victory again and Hendricks will join the long list of contenders over the years, who are forced to climb back up the ladder, or reinvent themselves in a new weight class.
With Erick Silva fighting Dong Hyun Kim in the co-main event at UFN a week from Wednesday, it won’t happen to much fanfare. Maybe that’s ok considering the state of the welterweight division right now.
At the top you have Hendricks, Condit, and Macdonald, then a few others like Demian Maia, Robbie Lawler, and Matt Brown who are tearing things up as well lately. None of those names have lost to Jon Fitch recently, which is what I think is the big hang up for anyone looking to put Silva in the mix among the best.
But he almost had Fitch in the first round and learned that night what he needed to do for the rest of his career. That’s a lesson that would’ve been the difference between a lightning ride to the top, only to lose to GSP by total impregnation, or a slower process where sure he loses to Fitch, but has the transcending moment where he realize what he has to do to beat the top wrestlers in the division, and actually take the belt from the champ.
There was a moment he probably had a day after the Fitch fight when he woke up and looked in the mirror. He probably didn’t like the new feeling he hadn’t had the day before his first loss. That moment now included a solid knot of doubt rooted deep down.
That’s where fear will drive a man to become better. I believe Silva has been wrestling with the best in preparation for whomever will attempt Fitch’s strategy on him again, and working harder on all aspects of his game in general. Sure I’m a huge biased fan of his, but only because I believe from what I’ve seen in the young contender that he will blast on to the top ten list very soon, and when he does, he’s gonna provide a difficult challenge for anyone they put in front of him.
His striking is so decisive. On the ground he uses every ounce of his being to snatch arms, necks, or deep body triangles. Sure his only wins are against relatively low level UFC oposition, but what he exhibits against mid tear talent, is still something worthy of note. That’s where he earns hype and accolades beyond the meager praises he receives these days. Look at the UFC’s top ten right now. Anyone reading this really doubt that Erick Silva would have much of a problem with the bottom five in Martin Kampmann, Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Tarec Saffiedine, or Matt Brown? I strongly doubt it.
But look at his fight against Kim. He’s up against a strong unranked opponent with a ton of potential in his own right. If he can blast through him, which will be a strong test for any man in the division, then he’s beating a man that has only lost twice in his career, arguably once, if you consider his freak rib injury a fluke against Demian Maia.
Then his other loss was against Condit, which is what happens to most people who have been pitted against the long time top contender in Condit over the past few years. Kim has beaten the likes of Paulo Thiago, Matt Brown, Nate Diaz, Amir Sadollah, T.J. Grant, and Sean Pierson, among many more.
Silva will bounce around then rush in with a strong set of unorthodox strikes that hit their targets from all angles. Kim will find it difficult to utilize his judo skills when he may be able to throw Silva down, but after a tough loss to one of the best wrestlers in the division at the time in Fitch, Silva will have learned by now how to not allow future opponents to hold him down.
That’s at least what men destined to become champions manage to accomplish in the end.