When I watch Erick Silva compete, I see what everybody else is seeing. I see an athletic striker who has terrific hand speed and knockout power. I see a very aggressive fighter who is a constant threat to hurt his opponents with a whirlwind of punches, knees, and kicks. I also see a fighter who is talented on the ground and capable of finishing by submission after hurting an opponent with strikes. I see a fighter who has all the talent in the world.
There is no fighter in the UFC that has more of a conflict between his statistics and his tape than Silva. My eyes are telling me that Silva is a phenomenal athlete and talented dynamo. The statistics are screaming at me that my eyes don’t know what they’re talking about – that Silva is something of a fraud, a good fighter but not a title contender and not the super talent that he’s been portrayed to be by so many people in MMA circles.
One of the pillars of this blog is that it’s too easy to get caught up in hype. It’s too easy to see flashy techniques and rush to overrate a fighter based on that flash. Statistics can help keep my opinion of a fighter grounded in reality. So the question is this: do I rely on the statistics, or do I rebel against them and side with what I see?
The overall numbers might shock you:
ERICK SILVA STATISTICS
- Significant Strikes: Silva 87, opponents 100
- Knockdowns: Silva 1, opponents 1
- Takedowns: Silva 2, opponents 8
- Guard Passes: Silva 3, opponents 5
- Submission Attempts: Silva 5, opponents 2
So what gives? The statistics portray Silva as a fighter who is slick on the ground but can’t defend takedowns and gets hit too much. Surely this isn’t the next superstar in the welterweight division?
In reality, this is a great example of the statistics being skewed by one fight. 82 of those 100 significant strikes absorbed by Silva were landed by Jon Fitch. Fitch also landed six takedowns and 61 significant strikes on the ground. 56 of those strikes were landed in just the third round.
If I remove the third round of the Silva-Fitch fight from the data sample, here are what the statistics look like instead:
- Significant Strikes: Silva 87, opponents 42
- Knockdowns: Silva 1, opponents 1
- Takedowns: Silva 2, opponents 6
- Guard Passes: Silva 3, opponents 3
- Submission Attempts: Silva 4, opponents 2
All of a sudden, Silva’s statistics make him look like a fighter who is still too easy to take down but is also very good at getting back up and is genuinely excellent with both strikes and submissions. Silva is clearly too wild at times, but his exciting style has worked for him more often than not. Silva’s KO loss to Dong Hyun Kim seems like more a fluke in retrospect than anything.
Now the numbers seem to match what I’m seeing – Silva is a flawed but extremely dangerous fighter. And yet, when I look at how he matches up with Matt Brown… I hate this fight for him.
What’s the kind of fighter who would perform well against Silva? Somebody who can take a punch and then capitalize on Silva’s wildness to land punishing strikes of his own. That’s Matt Brown in a nutshell. Brown has become one of the more unlikely title contenders in UFC history. At one point, Brown was a man fighting for his job against the likes of Chris Cope. Now, Brown is on a six-fight winning streak. In the past, Brown was far too easy to submit. Brown has since addressed his submission defense, which has allowed his punishing striking style to shine.
Brown isn’t going to be intimidated by Silva’s wild, aggressive striking. He’s going to stand in the pocket and throw hard punches right back. Brown enters this fight with a career +1.26 significant strike margin per minute. He’s landed seven knockdowns and absorbed just one. He’s never lost a fight by knockout or TKO. And this is after fighting (and beating) quality opponents like Mike Pyle, Jordan Mein, and Stephen Thompson.
Meanwhile, check out the list of fighters Silva has defeated in the UFC:
- Takenori Sato
- Jason High
- Charlie Brenneman
- Luis Ramos
- You can count Carlo Prater if you want, the point still stands
Matt Brown is not only a much tougher opponent overall, he’s a FAR better striker than anybody Silva has ever defeated.
I’m sure a lot of people will come into this fight wondering how Matt Brown is going to deal with Erick Silva. The real question is this: how is Erick Silva going to deal with Matt Brown?
Pick: Matt Brown by TKO