For the last couple UFC events, I tried to go back to doing full fight previews for each fight at each event. Quite frankly, I’m not thrilled with how they turned out. People who make a living evaluating the sport spend many hours breaking down tape on every fighter. I’m not opposed to doing that, but since I already put so much time into processing SILVA scores, I simply don’t have the time to do that kind of scouting. Instead, what I’ve decided to do is write about a few things at every event which specifically interest me. This way, I can put the spotlight on a few select fights, and then later in the week, post a full set of SILVA predictions.
A few weeks ago, Chad Mendes took on Cody McKenzie at UFC 148. I was hardly unique in calling it a mismatch, and sure enough, Mendes took care of business in lightning-quick fashion. At UFC on Fox 4 on Saturday, there appears to be a similar case of bizarre matchmaking, where UFC newcomer Wagner Prado will be taking on the highly ranked Phil Davis.
At first glance, channeling the Mendes-McKenzie massacre appears to be the wrong thing to do. As it turns out, Prado is highly regarded by prospect gurus, being labeled by Bloody Elbow’s World Scouting Report as the top light-heavyweight prospect in the world earlier this year. Having watched some of the tape on Prado, I completely understand why. He has a very strong striking game. He puts pressure on his opponents, and blasts them with power punches to the head and body, and kicks to these targets as well. Prado also appears good on the ground, although his is more a ground and pound game than a submission game.
Still, being a prospect is one thing, and being ready for Phil Davis is quite another. And unlike other recent prospect entries into the UFC like Chris Weidman, Prado doesn’t have the statistical resume to back up his top prospect status. At 8-0, Prado is undefeated, but has yet to face a quality opponent in an MMA fight. His record reads as follows:
- Win – Aldo Sultao (0-2)
- Win – Wellington Guilherme Rodrigues (1-3)
- Win – Cleber Tavares de Moura (0-2)
- Win – Fernando Tressino (4-7)
- Win – Luis Eduardo da Paixao (4-1)
- Win – Alexandre Imperador (0-2)
- Win – Mario Dias (2-3)
- Win – Fernando Tressino (0-5)
The only fighter on that list with a halfway-decent record is Luis Eduardo da Paixao, who was 4-0 when he took on Prado. To Prado’s credit, he put on a striking clinic in that one, although Paixao did knock Prado down with a strike in the second round of their match.
SILVA 0.1 was heavily flawed in many ways, and overall, not a good system for predicting fight outcomes. What it was good at, however, was identifying prospects and future stars. On the whole, fighters with a rating above 45.00 in that system have performed very well against high-level competition. Among them are the aforementioned Weidman, Daniel Cormier, and Johny Hendricks. Prado’s score in SILVA 0.1? 32.60. That doesn’t mean he’s not a good prospect, it simply means that he hasn’t fought good enough opponents to prove it.
Phil Davis is much, much better than anybody Wagner Prado has faced in his career. In particular, he’s a far better wrestler than anybody Prado has faced. How Prado will fare against the wrestling and ground game Davis brings to the table is a mystery.
Perhaps the best indicator of how this fight will go is the striking defense of Davis. Since Prado has shown himself to be a striker first, it stands to reason that if he is to win the fight, it will be by knockout. It should therefore be disheartening for Prado to realize that Davis has only been hit by 1.01 significant strikes per minute in his UFC career, and before his loss to Rashad Evans, was only hit by 22 significant strikes from five opponents combined. This includes a grand total of five strikes from Brian Stann and Alexander Gustafsson, who are more proven as strikers than Prado is.
SILVA PREDICTION: PHIL DAVIS (72.12) OVER WAGNER PRADO (11.85)
I never completely dismiss a fighter’s chances, so I will say that there’s a chance Prado catches Davis with a punch or kick and knocks him out. But after looking at Prado’s record, and seeing that he has yet to face a good opponent or a good wrestler, it’s painfully clear that he’s not ready for this fight. Look for Davis to get this fight to the ground quickly, and win by either submission or dominant decision.