Up-and-coming welterweight slugger Erick Silva debuted in the UFC less than a year-and-a-half ago but has already commanded considerable attention from fans and the media alike. That's what happens when you start out in the toughest fight promotion on the planet with a trio of first round stoppages (even if one resulted in a disqualification loss).
But much of the shine that's been so decadently gilding Silva's name these past 15 months has faded, and the 28-year-old now finds himself mired in leagues of adversity.
The fall from grace? A product of Silva's most recent performance.
What a difference one night can make.
At UFC 153, Silva was handed his toughest task to date—he was challenged to take on perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch. The result was not pretty.
Though Silva had his moments against Fitch, he was manhandled for the better part of 15 minutes and dropped a one-sided decision to his accomplished opponent.
The result of that match has left many wondering whether Silva's future is as bright as once believed. Was the defeat truly a sign of inexperience, or was it something more—a sign of inferiority?
Deferring to Jon Fitch as a superior fighter is hardly shameful, given the wrestler's ample talent, but Silva is supposed to be special. He isn't supposed to be outclassed.
The question is, does he still have the potential to be special—does he have the potential to one day eclipse Fitch?
In a word, "yes." He has that potential.
In fact, Silva's defeat possesses much less meaning than many have ascribed to it. Sure, it plainly exhibited that he's not at the top of the welterweight division right now, but it says almost nothing of Silva's future.
Long time UFC fans may remember when another highly-touted welterweight who skyrocketed up the divisional ladder before he was ushered back down by a decorated veteran.
That other welterweight? Current 170 pound deity Georges St-Pierre, and his Jon Fitch happened to be former 170 pound kingpin Matt Hughes.
St-Pierre's loss—a first round submission defeat—did little to grow his legend, but it did nothing to hamper his future success. In fact, it aided his future endeavors. After losing to Hughes, St-Pierre returned a wiser, more dangerous fighter—the one we recognize today as a pound-for-pound player.
The same opportunity to turn a loss into a lesson is there for Silva. While his ceiling may not be as high as St-Pierre's, he is a definite candidate to factor into the division's title picture down the road, and if he learns from the Fitch loss, there is no reason why he shouldn't get there. He's certainly talented enough.
We will learn a lot about Silva as a fighter—as well as his likely career path—the next time he competes because the affects of a profound lesson are obvious. If he's learned, we'll know.
As it stands right now, I still consider Silva a potential future champion in spite of his loss to Fitch. If he is able to turn the loss to Fitch into a "Matt Hughes moment," I'll be inclined to consider him a probable future champion because of it.