It’s amazing to reflect on the kind of things that have happened while running SILVA. There have been exciting highs that have left me doing fist-pumps, Tiger Woods style. Whether it’s Daniel Cormier knocking out Antonio Silva, Rick Story beating Thiago Alves, or Edson Barboza starting his UFC career 3-0, there have been a number of triumphs. At the same time, there have been quite a few head-scratchers as well. Just a couple days ago, I had to put up with a system that picked Aaron Riley, Takanori Gomi, and Matt Hughes to win. Another one that left me shaking my head took place back at UFC 132, when SILVA had Shane Roller beating Melvin Guillard.
At the time, I thought SILVA was overrating Roller based on a win over Thiago Tavares earlier in the year. I was wrong to assume this. In fact, according to Victory Score, Roller has fought ten times in a row against “UFC-quality” opposition and has gone 7-3. The wins: Todd Moore, Mike Budnik, Marcus Hicks, Danny Castillo, Anthony Njokuani, Jamie Varner, and Thiago Tavares. The losses: Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis, and Melvin Guillard. At this point, I’m more inclined to say that instead of overrating Roller, SILVA was underrating Guillard, and that Roller is a good, but not great, UFC lightweight fighter.
That makes this a good match, because you could probably say the same thing of T.J. Grant. Grant is a fighter with a number of solid victories, including Julio Paulino, Kevin Burns, Forrest Petz, and Chad Reiner, but when he’s stepped up in competition, he’s fallen short, losing fights to Dong Hyun Kim, Johny Hendricks, and Ricardo Almeida. Now, Roller and Grant will each get a fight against an opponent who could be considered about average in the UFC.
On paper, Grant enters as the better striker; Roller’s fight history is unimpressive in the striking department, and he has multiple submission wins that were achieved without landing a single “Significant Strike.” By the same token, Roller enters as the better wrestler, with a better ground game. Grant was taken down repeatedly by Johny Hendricks, which is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but he was also taken down often by Ricardo Almeida. Almeida has a strong takedown, but isn’t so good that Grant shouldn’t be more successful in defending it than he was.
SILVA PREDICTION: SHANE ROLLER (32.51) OVER T.J. GRANT (31.06)
In Roller’s last fight, he faced an extremely dangerous striker with very good takedown defense in Melvin Guillard. Roller couldn’t take Guillard down, and then got pummeled standing. This time, with T.J. Grant as his opponent, Roller is taking on an opponent with very weak takedown defense. Roller may be out-struck in the fight, but I expect Roller to take Grant down frequently and ultimately win the fight by either decision or submission.