Antonio Silva bloodied after battle with Cain Velasquez at UFC 146
On October 5, 2012 the UFC will roll into Minneapolis, MN for a what looks to be the best UFC on FX card to date. In the main event of the evening, two up-and-coming heavyweights, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis "Hapa" Browne, will square off.
After running through opponents since his draw with Cheick Kongo, Browne finally gets that step up in competition. While Browne looked like a man on a mission against Chad Griggs in his last outing, Silva is a tough draw for anyone.
Silva is coming off a brutal defeat at the hands of former Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez in his UFC debut. He was put on his back and thoroughly ground-and-pounded en route to a TKO loss. That loss was his second in a row after losing to Daniel Cormier in his final Strikeforce fight. Now on a two-fight skid, Silva will look to rebound against the highly touted up-and-comer, Browne.
Browne is currently unbeaten and has looked increasingly talented since joining the UFC back in 2010. His superman punch KO of Stefan Struve earned him Knockout of the Night honors back at UFC 130. He seemed to be a little gassed in his bout with Rob Broughton at UFC 135, but gained a unanimous decision victory. Browne will look to extend his unbeaten streak to 15 at UFC on FX 5.
Let's see how they match-up.
"Hapa" attempts a flying knee in his bout against Chad Griggs
Antonio Silva has shown he's a capable striker with 11 of his 16 wins coming by KO/TKO, one of which came against the great Fedor Emelianenko. In Silva's case, this has been in large part because of his strength, not as much his striking skill.
Silva is a big, strong man and if his fists land flush, they can make fighters crumble. He has a black belt in karate and knows what to do to get the job done on the feet. Unfortunately, his lack of speed was exposed by both Mike Kyle and Daniel Cormier.
If there is one thing Travis Browne has shown to date, it is his willingness to stand and bang. He has also shown great speed, technique and movement for a fighter that stands 6'7'' and weighs upwards of 250 pounds. Browne moves in and out with ease while making great use of angles. I wouldn't describe him as lightning fast, he's more deceptively quick. Nine of his 13 wins have been of the KO/TKO variety.
Both Silva and Browne have the ability to go out and finish the fight with their striking, but the more complete striker is clearly Browne. He is very strong in the clinch, utilizes great movement and should have a distinct speed advantage.
Travis Browne after submitting Chad Griggs
"Bigfoot" Silva is a powerful dude. He possess both mass and strength while owning a black belt in judo, to boot. However, that potential has rarely translated into fight-night success. He was able to dump Fedor Emelianenko on a couple occasions, and was able to keep him there and pulverize him. But in some other high-profile matchups with Cain Velasquez, Fabricio Werdum and Daniel Cormier, the wrestling game has not played out in his favor.
Browne has spent the majority of his time in the cage on his feet, so there is not too much to go by here. When he has attempted takedowns, he's gotten them. When fighters have tried to take him down, they haven't succeeded. What we have seen of Browne's wrestling has been impressive, but it just isn't enough to give him an edge.
Neither Silva nor Browne are known for their swarming wrestling. They haven't been the kind of fighters that rely heavily on their wrestling to find the win column. Browne has shown the ability to wrestle and avoid getting taken down thus far, but it's just not enough to call it an advantage against Silva, a man who forced Emelianenko down and out. Still, Silva's shown an inability to find success against other heavyweight grinders, so I couldn't give him the nod, either.
Although I don't foresee this one ending with a submission, it could happen. Silva has three black belts at home. One of those is a "Nogueira Black Belt" in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We've all heard Chael Sonnen's take on a black belt from that system, but let's be realistic, it's an accomplishment.
Silva hasn't made it a point to implement his jiu-jitsu, but I'm betting it is there. This guy takes turns hitting the mat with the Blackzilians and Nogueiras. One doesn't just test the waters by training with elite company like that.
Travis Browne flashed a little bit of what has earned him a BJJ purple belt in his last outing against Chad Griggs. Browne was able to lock up an arm triangle to earn the Submission of the Night bonus at UFC 145. An opportunity opened and Browne jumped on it.
Whether he is really that slick, or if the beating he handed Griggs leading up to it had any influence, is yet to be seen. Either way, he's never had to roll with another fighter as skilled as Silva on the ground.
This aspect of the fight game is very intriguing. Both fighters have two submission wins. One has a purple belt in BJJ, the other has a black belt. The one glaring difference here is level of competition. "Bigfoot" wins that by a landslide. He was able to hold his own against submission artists Fabricio Werdum, Ricco Rodriguez and Fedor Emelianenko. If Silva can drag Browne to the ground, we may see "Hapa" in some hot water.
Travis Browne is a true up-and-comer. He looks to have that fire and passion fight fans love to see. More impressively, he actually notices and takes advantages of openings he sees in his fights. Browne is one of the taller fighters in MMA, standing 6'7'' with a 78" reach. He appears to be a smart fighter and fights to his strengths.
Browne has done a great job controlling where his fights take place. Whether he has been successful by skill alone, or by being the beneficiary of good matchups, remains to be seen. He did fight Cheick Kongo to a draw, but only because Kongo suffered a one-point deduction. Still, "Hapa" has looked strong, fast and exhibited a high fight IQ thus far.
If there is one thing that should worry Browne's fans, it's his questionable cardio. In his fight with Rob Broughton, he looked completely lethargic in the final frame. Fortunately for him, Broughton looked worn out as well. I'm not saying I fault Browne for failing to finish Broughton, because he's a notoriously tough fighter to finish, but any fighter with dreams of UFC gold should be able to put in a hard fought five rounds. If cardio failed in 15 minutes against Broughton, Silva could make him pay late in the fight.
Antonio Silva has a desire to fight the best and eventually be the best. He is a fighter and a competitor. Fans love to see a guy like that. Additionally, he can take a beating and keep his wits about him. "Bigfoot" has acromegaly and is a large man because of it. He is the shorter man between the two in this match, but he should hold a sizable weight advantage when the two square off. Silva normally steps in the cage at around 280 pounds. His reach is the third best in all the UFC at 82", which poses stylistic problems for anyone looking to exchange from the outside.
So many people want to get behind rising stars and be the first to call an up-and-comer a future champion. Many of those fighters are inexperienced against top-tier competition. Where Browne is lacking, Silva knows a thing or two about fighting in the main event. With fights against Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Andrei Arlovski and Fabricio Werdum, Silva has gained a lot of experience points. He is familiar with what it takes to be competitive at the highest level of fighting.
This fight has the potential to be a barn-burner for as long as it lasts. Both these guys like to finish fights and impose their wills.
I see these two guys taking the center stage and capping off a great night of fights with a battle of flying fists.
Both fighters are going to take punishment early, but ultimately I see Browne using speed and technique to put Silva on the ropes. Once that happens, Silva will try to get the fight to the ground and end up getting caught up in Browne's clinch.
Browne polishes off the night with a series of knees and the fight fans provide a "golf clap" in appreciation for the 4 minute battle they just witnessed.
Prediction: Browne TKO Silva around the 4:15 mark of round one.