Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC on Fuel Preview: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Walel Watson

First things first: it now looks like John Albert vs. Ivan Menjivar has been promoted to the main card of Wednesday’s show, so there are now six fights scheduled to be broadcast on Fuel TV on Wednesday, starting at 8:00 ET/5:00 PT.

After that clash of bantamweights takes place, there will be another bantamweight battle, as TUF 14 runner-up T.J. Dillashaw will take on the lanky Walel Watson. Watson had a pretty entertaining fight against striker Yves Jabouin in his last fight, a contest that took place mostly at standing distance. While Jabouin’s strength is his ability to strike, he had real difficulties dealing with the much taller Watson, who used his reach very effectively to frustrate Jabouin. In the end, Jabouin won the split decision, but it looked to me like Watson out-struck him, and Fight Metric shows Watson as having out-struck Jabouin in all three rounds of the fight.

Because SILVA is an objective system that only looks at wins and losses, it treats Watson’s loss to Jabouin the same as any other loss, which is why I will never hold SILVA up as the be-all or end-all of evaluating how good a fighter is. With the loss to Jabouin, Watson’s SILVA score is a very low 18.38, but I think he’s really a lot better than that, given his underlying performances in his UFC fights.

Watson’s opponent in this fight will be T.J. Dillashaw, the runner-up on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Dillashaw entered that season at 4-0 overall, which makes his run to the finals very impressive, as fighters as inexperienced as Dillashaw usually have a very difficult time winning fights on TUF. However, when Dillashaw got to the finale, history was against him. The only fighter ever to win a season of TUF with fewer than five professional MMA fights on his record was Amir Sadollah. Every other inexperienced finalist, including guys like Brendan Schaub, came up on the losing end.

Old versions of SILVA required a fighter to have at least five fights on his record to receive a rating. The current version of SILVA instead requires at least two wins against opponents with at least five fights on their record. Unfortunately, Dillashaw only has one such win, a TKO victory over Taylor McCorriston. Now, that was a high-quality win, earning Dillashaw a Victory Score of 69.55, but as it’s his only qualifying win in the SILVA system, he does not yet meet the requirements to be assigned a SILVA score.


That looks ugly, but again, SILVA is not the be-all and end-all of how good fighters are, and I think this is a better fight than SILVA gives it credit for. While there is certainly room for T.J. Dillashaw to improve as a fighter, and he does have one very good win, until he becomes more experienced, it’s hard for me to side with him to beat a good opponent like Walel Watson. Watson has looked very good in his brief UFC career so far, so I’m going to pick him to win this fight.


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