Bellator is back this Friday with another edition of its Summer Series, as Bellator 73 will take place at the Tunica Hotel and Casino in Tunica Resorts, Mississippi. And there’s little doubt that I speak for many hardcore MMA fans when I express my disappointment at the postponing of the Bellator featherweight championship match between Pat Curran and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Still, there will be two tournament finals taking place on the card: the bantamweight tournament final between Marcos Galvao and Luis Alberto Nogueira, and the light-heavyweight tournament final between Attila Vegh and Travis Wiuff.
Wiuff was my pre-tournament favorite to win, and hasn’t disappointed, dispatching of Chris Davis and Tim Carpenter with little trouble. And at first glance, it appears he should be a solid favorite to beat Attila Vegh as well. Unlike Wiuff, Vegh’s path to the final has not been easy, as in his last fight, he won a split decision against Emanuel Newton, a decision that I and many others disagreed with.
One problem: Vegh’s win over Newton was enough to increase his SILVA score to 76.41, which is not only higher than Wiuff, but higher than other very well-regarded light-heavyweights, such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Forrest Griffin, Phil Davis, and Ryan Bader. So does this mean I’m going against my pre-tournament pick and taking Vegh to advance to the Bellator light-heavyweight championship against Christian M’Pumbu?
To answer the question, I’ll first state that I’ve considered withdrawing split decision results from a fighter’s Fight Level, the biggest component of SILVA. And since Vegh has recent split decision wins against both Newton and Dan Spohn, his current Fight Level of 21.77 would take a serious tumble if I implemented that change. Doing so would decrease his Fight Level to 15.54, and as a result, decrease his SILVA score to 59.42. This SILVA score would rate below the aforementioned light-heavyweight stars.
In addition to that, I just don’t think Vegh matches up that well with Wiuff. A wrestler, Wiuff is perhaps the biggest light-heavyweight in MMA, and it has been said that he weighs about 240 pounds at the time of his fight. By contrast, Vegh is a relatively small light-heavyweight who weighed in at 200 pounds even for his Bellator debut against Spohn. While Vegh showed respectable takedown defense against Newton, it’s difficult to envision him being able to stop the takedown of Wiuff.
It’s also unlikely Vegh would be able to win by submission. Tim Carpenter certainly tried for it, but just wasn’t able to get a good attempt going against Wiuff. While Wiuff has five career losses by submission, three of those were submissions due to strikes, and Wiuff has 82 professional fights on his record. As it turns out, Wiuff loses by submission about once every 40 fights. It’s just not a reliable way to beat him, especially if his opponent is working off his back, as Vegh almost certainly will be.
The way to beat Wiuff is clear: hit him very hard on the chin and knock him out, or stop him by TKO. Along with the three submission losses due to strikes, Wiuff has lost by TKO to Tim Hague, Stanislav Nedkov, “King Mo” Lawal, and a few others as well. Unfortunately for Vegh, he just doesn’t have tremendous fight-ending power. He did drop Zelg Galesic with an uppercut, but only possesses nine career TKO wins in 33 fights, and many of those were against over-matched opponents with poor records.
SILVA PREDICTION: ATTILA VEGH (76.41) OVER TRAVIS WIUFF (68.90)
So as I’ve explained, there are a multitude of reasons to go against SILVA’s pick here. One is that a future version of SILVA may well pick Wiuff instead. But the real reason is simply how these fighters match up. I think Vegh’s only chance to win here is to catch Wiuff with a right hand to the chin and knock him out. That’s not outside the realm of possibility, but Vegh doesn’t hit hard enough, consistently enough, to favor him to win. I see Wiuff dominating with takedowns, just as he did against Tim Carpenter, and grinding out a decision, or perhaps stopping Vegh by TKO.