Thiago Tavares is a great example of how, in the UFC, being good isn’t necessarily good enough. Tavares is a very good grappler, with 11 submission wins to his name, and he has good striking skills as well. However, Tavares is relatively lacking in the wrestling department (the key word is “relatively”) and he hasn’t shown significant KO power, as he has just one TKO win on his resume. It’s a good skill set, but in the UFC, it isn’t an exceptional skill set, and the result is a fighter with a 5-4-1 UFC record, whose back is likely to be against the wall in terms of his status as an employed fighter in the UFC.
Fortunately for Tavares, his opponent at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro will be Spencer Fisher. Now, don’t get me wrong, Fisher *has* shown KO power in his career, but not recently. In fact, the last time Fisher won by TKO was against Dan Lauzon at UFC 64. Since then, Fisher has been mostly a mid-level UFC “stand and bang” artist, one whose standing and banging wasn’t good enough to beat Dennis Siver, or Ross Pearson, or Joe Stevenson. Fisher’s recent wins? Curt Warburton, Caol Uno, and Shannon Gugerty. The Uno win would have meant something six years earlier, and even then, it’s not an inspiring list.
On paper, there’s only one way Tavares really loses this fight: if not only does he decide to play Fisher’s “stand and bang” game, he loses a decision based on volume. That is a possibility, and while Tavares is a solid favorite to win this fight, he’s not so much of a favorite that a Fisher win is inconceivable or anything.
Victory Scores? For Fisher’s three wins mentioned above, 64.17 for Uno, 63.55 for Gugerty, and 60.91 for Warburton. All three fights miss the “UFC-quality” standard, and to the best of my knowledge, Fisher didn’t blow anybody away in any of those victories.
Here’s the good news for Fisher fans: Tavares doesn’t exactly have a glowing recent resume either. In fact, Tavares is 3-3-1 in his last seven fights, with a draw against Nik Lentz and losses to Matt Wiman, Kurt Pellegrino, and Shane Roller. Victory Scores? For beating Pat Audinwood, 68.68. For beating Manny Gamburyan, 61.13. For beating a 4-5 Michihiro Omigawa, 50.33. I know, those Victory Scores may seem in reverse order of how good those three fighters really are, but the point is that Tavares hasn’t been any kind of world-beater.
SILVA PREDICTION: THIAGO TAVARES (29.86) OVER SPENCER FISHER (29.57)
The SILVA scores are actually pretty darn close, but keep in mind that I’m looking into putting less weight on past fights in the system. For now, Fisher still gets credit for wins over Jeremy Stephens and Sam Stout, and that’s what is really keeping him afloat in my system. If my suspicions about SILVA are correct, and the system would become more accurate by looking at a fighter’s past six fights instead of ten, then Fisher’s SILVA score would be a more dismal 24.17. I think that’s a better indicator of where Fisher is at this point: a declining fighter just trying to hold on in the UFC. And if he wins a striking battle against Thiago Tavares, it will probably be Tavares who gets sent packing. But Tavares has so many more tools at his disposal than Fisher that I have to give Tavares the edge to win this fight.