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Breakdown: UFC Rio

Preview by Anthony Springer, Jr.

This Saturday, the UFC returns to Brazil with one of the country’s favorite sons headlining the affair. Anderson “The Spider” Silva attempts to avenge his last professional loss when he defends his crown against Yushin “Thunder” Okami. Let’s take a look at the fighters.

Anderson Silva
Notable victories: Rich Franklin (twice), Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen
Keys to victory: Striking

Yushin Okami
Notable Victories: Anderson Silva (via DQ), Nate Marquardt, Mark Munoz, Evan Tanner
Keys to victory: Getting the fight to the ground

The Breakdown:

After seeing what the Silva has done to the competition—many of them top tier competition at the time—many fans may find the sell of this fight as a competitive bout as laughable. And there’s certainly a case to be made for that. However, fans and pundits do so would be wrong. Despite a less than exciting fighting style, it’s difficult, if not impossible to not consider Okami a threat.

Scrap everything you know, or think you know from the two men’s first and only other previous meeting—this is a new day. Both men are vastly improved fighters.

If Okami can get the bout to the ground, he has a shot at grinding out a decision, albeit none that will make a Sports Center “Play of the Day.” It’ll be ugly, it’ll likely have few exciting moments. It may even cause fans to get a little rowdy. But we’ll have a new UFC middleweight champion at the end of the day.

The problem with this line of thinking is that while it’s possible, it’s not necessarily probable. If Silva’s bout with Chael Sonnen is any indication, “The Spider” is susceptible to falling victim to a good wrestler. A good wrestler with a good double leg. Okami likes to utilize superior strength and a great deal of his takedowns come from a higher position, compatible with his Judo background. Though the challenger has taken up camp with Sonnen, developing a good double leg doesn’t happen overnight, or even with an eight-week training camp. As soon as Okami gets cracked, he’ll likely revert back to what he knows—as most fighters do.

Going for a takedown while shoulder-to-shoulder with Silva opens Okami up for a Thai-clinch.

And that’s where things get interesting.

It may take some doing, as Okami has a solid chin, but the lack of options for the challenger make him easy picking for Silva—easily the best striker in the division, if not all of MMA. With a takedown out of reach, Silva will pick apart Okami en route to another highlight reel stoppage.

The Verdict:

Silva via (T)KO, round 3.



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