Jon Fitch has been a contender in the UFC's most competitive division for quite some time. He may have found himself unable to create a strong fanbase due to a fighting style that lulls many fans to sleep, but his skills are very impressive.
But while he does sport an impressive 13-2-1 record in the UFC, he doesn't have as many wins over high-level competition as one might expect.
Fitch's two biggest wins came over Thiago Alves. His next best wins were unanimous decision wins over Mike Pierce and Paulo Thiago, along with a split decision win over Diego Sanchez.
These are not easy fighters to outperform, but they are far from the elite of the current welterweight division.
In his last two fights—bouts against BJ Penn and Johny Hendricks—he has come up short. He fought to a majority draw against the undersized former lightweight and welterweight champion before suffering a brutal knockout loss 20 seconds into his fight with Hendricks.
These are much more proven fighters than Erick Silva, and it might be easy to dismiss these performances when considering Fitch's chances against a largely untested prospect.
But it's important to understand why he didn't win these matches. He couldn't beat Penn largely because he was unable to maintain top control for more than 30 seconds at a time in the first two rounds of their match. Only after Penn was horribly gassed was Fitch able to hold him down and clearly win a round.
Against Johny Hendricks, he took a clean straight left that hurt him badly. Hendricks is not lacking in power, but one can't help but speculate over Fitch's ability to take damage.
His inability to hold athletic grapplers down, alongside his questionable ability to take damage, could spell serious trouble against one of the division's most promising prospects.
Erick Silva is a young and athletic Brazilian fighter who always looks to finish his opponents. It's true he hasn't beaten a top 20 welterweight in the UFC. In fact, everyone he has beaten in the UFC has subsequently been released.
But there's no denying that he's a nasty striker with good takedown defense. I speculate that training with the likes of Junior dos Santos and José Aldo will have helped improve both of these strengths considerably since he has last fought.
I have no doubt that Fitch has the potential to beat Silva. Silva has not faced a fighter at all comparable to Fitch. But given shortcomings in his recent matches, it is hard to trust Fitch to hold down his opponent for long enough to avoid a violent knockout loss.
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