My first test of the original version of SILVA was done on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The ranking of the participants of that show had a top 4 of Nick Ring, Josh Bryant, Court McGee, and Kris McCray. This helped motivate me to continue my studies: Ring was 1-0 on the show, beating eventual winner McGee before being forced out of the show due to injury. Bryant made it to the semifinals before losing to McCray, who he defeated in the first round. So I started out thinking very highly of Mr. Ring.
Then I revised SILVA, to version 1.0. The new version dramatically improved SILVA’s overall ability to predict fights. But for that particular season of The Ultimate Fighter, SILVA 1.0 seemed to be quite a bit worse. I don’t think anybody would truly consider Seth Baczynski and Charles Blanchard to be the best fighters from that show, but SILVA considered them to be. Nick Ring? He slipped all the way to 8th place, with a paltry SILVA score of 20.00. Ring took that score into his UFC 127 fight with Riki Fukuda, where Ring was awarded a very controversial decision victory.
So when Ring entered his UFC 131 fight against James Head with a SILVA score of 29.20, I downgraded it in my mind due to the controversial nature of the way his score got there. Given that Head had a very strong SILVA score, based on beating Gerald Harris, I felt that Head would be a good pick to win.
Woops. Instead, it was Ring who showed better conditioning and a better overall MMA game. Now, Ring still has a SILVA score of 29.20, but with a rAP of 39.31, Ring is not far removed from consideration as an “elite” middleweight fighter by SILVA (rAP of 43.00 or higher). I’ve come full circle on Ring: I initially thought highly of him, then thought poorly of him, and now I think pretty highly of him again.
But I also think highly of his opponent, Tim Boetsch. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think Boetsch is a real title contender, and I think he’s probably peaked at a 32.62 SILVA score. But I’m a little bit of an oddball as far as choosing fighters to root for. Boetsch has a raw kind of strength that I find very entertaining and interesting to watch; I have very fond memories of the way he defeated David Heath at UFC 81, essentially by smashing Heath onto the mat. He might not be the most talented guy out there, but he comes to fight.
The achilles heel for Boetsch has historically been his conditioning. It betrayed him in a loss against Matt Hamill, and it betrayed him again in a loss against Jason Brilz. Boetsch was subsequently released from the UFC, but won three straight fights and was brought back. In his return tour, Boetsch is 2-1. The loss was to Phil Davis: no shame at all there. One of the wins was against Todd Brown: that barely counts. But Boetsch was impressive in his most recent fight, a win over Kendall Grove in his middleweight debut, in which Boetsch showed subjectively better conditioning than he had in the past.
SILVA PREDICTION: TIM BOETSCH (32.62) OVER NICK RING (29.20)
While it may reasonably be said that Nick Ring represents an upgrade in opponent for Tim Boetsch, the reverse can also be said. In fact, I see Boetsch as easily Ring’s biggest challenge yet. Ring might have an advantage in conditioning, but Boetsch has a rare kind of power for the middleweight division. If he can impose that power on Ring, it could make for a miserable night for the undefeated Canadian. On the flip side, if Ring can make Boetsch work hard for takedowns, and wear him out early, he could follow up strongly with strikes in the second and third rounds. It should make for a good fight.