It wasn’t long ago that I was calling for a top contender’s match to be contested between Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulos. My reasoning was that since Miller had a UFC record of 8-1 and Sotiropoulos had a UFC record of 7-0, that the winner would be uniquely qualified to take on the winner of May’s lightweight title match between Gray Maynard and Frank Edgar. Of course, this was also based on SILVA, which absolutely loved Miller and liked Sotiropoulos a lot.
That was also the old SILVA. New SILVA has a much less enthusiastic opinion of Sotiropoulos. A big part of the new SILVA formula is that it de-emphasizes a fighter’s record as a whole, and places much more emphasis on the best wins on a fighter’s record. Doing this significantly improved SILVA’s ability to predict UFC fights (from a poor 56% to a much better 62%), and it meant that a lot of MMA veterans were more properly valued. If I had the new version of SILVA to evaluate Sotiropoulos entering his UFC 127 fight against Dennis Siver, I would’ve realized that his 7-0 UFC record was built on a roster of average or worse UFC opponents, and that Sotiropoulos was ultimately more hype than substance.
I thought the plan for Sotiropoulos against Siver would’ve been simple: take Siver down and dominate him with superior grappling. As it turns out, Siver’s physical strength and striking prowess was a very tough style match for Sotiropoulos, who was completely unable to take Siver down throughout the fight. Siver won the decision, and Sotiropoulos enters UFC 132 with a 7-1 UFC record instead of 7-0.
This time, I have what I believe is a much more accurate view of the abilities of Sotiropoulos: a great grappler who will have problems against good wrestlers and strikers, and is ultimately somewhere in the middle of the UFC lightweight division. The way I see it, to beat Sotiropoulos, a fighter needs to fulfill one of two requirements: either the fighter needs to be a very strong striker/wrestler, or needs to have a superior record (as measured by SILVA).
Fortunately for Sotiropoulos, his opponent, Rafael dos Anjos, doesn’t fulfill the first requirement. dos Anjos is a grappler like Sotiropoulos, with merely decent striking and wrestling, and a ratio of seven submission wins to just one TKO. From a style perspective, either dos Anjos will strike with Sotiropoulos, in which case he might be able to win on points, or dos Anjos will play the ground game, which likely favors Sotiropoulos.
So does Rafael dos Anjos have a strong enough record to overcome that? To answer the question, let’s look at his six-fight UFC career:
- LOSS – Jeremy Stephens – UFC 91 – KO, 0:39 round 3
- LOSS – Tyson Griffin – UFC Fight Night 18 – Decision (Unanimous)
- WIN – Robert Emerson – UFC 103 – Decision (Unanimous)
- WIN – Kyle Bradley – UFC Fight Night 20 – Decision (Unanimous)
- WIN – Terry Etim – UFC 112 – Submission (Armbar), 4:30 round 2
- LOSS – Clay Guida – UFC 117 – Submission (Jaw Injury), 1:51 round 3
SILVA PREDICTION: GEORGE SOTIROPOULOS (29.68) OVER RAFAEL DOS ANJOS (28.48)
That record just isn’t good enough. As a result, SILVA favors the Australian fighter in Sotiropoulos to win the fight. As I feel that this is a bad style match for dos Anjos, I think Sotiropoulos is more of a favorite than SILVA would suggest, but either way, dos Anjos is exactly the kind of fighter that Sotiropoulos has shown he beats so consistently.