Anderson Silva needs to fight Rashad Evans.
Obviously, this matchup is not set in stone right now—it's not even set in sand. Evans is currently set to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156, but he acknowledged a fight with Silva would be a vibrant and intriguing showdown (via MMAJunkie.com).
A fight between "The Spider" and "Suga" makes all kinds of sense.
Silva's manager, Ed Soares, wants a name opponent. Cung Le is currently the guy getting the most love from the Silva camp.
Evans, though, is an even bigger name. As a former UFC light heavyweight champion, he is a much scarier opponent for Silva, too.
If Silva crushes a 40-year-old Le, nobody will be overly impressed; the pound-for-pound great is, after all, supposed to obliterate other strikers in emphatic fashion.
However, if Silva takes on Suga and annihilates him, the Brazilian will push his legacy one step further.
Evans, a strong wrestler with knockout power in his fists, shins and elbows, is a beast. He is a legitimate threat to Silva's reign.
Should The Spider bring his insulin pen into the Octagon to avoid slipping into a Suga coma?
Let's check out the head-to-toe breakdown and find out.
Rashad Evans' striking skills are better than any of Silva's previous opponents in the UFC.
One could make an argument that Vitor Belfort deserves that distinction—and that may be justified—but I personally see Evans as more of a threat on the feet.
Evans possesses strong grappling skills, and he is a threat to shoot for a takedown at all times. As a result, he can freeze his opponents and cause them to be cautious with their kicks and knees—Silva's specialties.
Against Belfort, Silva was not worried about being taken down. Therefore, he was comfortable throwing whatever he pleased, as evidenced by the front-kick knockout he scored in that bout.
Did you have fun reading that?
Good...because none of it matters.
Anderson Silva is the greatest striker in MMA history. One cannot really favor any of his opponents on the feet.
Silva's ability to dodge strikes and perfectly time his counterattacks is a marvelous thing to watch. His striking is simply divine.
We all know what Silva brings to the table while standing, so I will not belabor this point any more.
This is where things get interesting.
Evans, a former Division I standout wrestler at Michigan State University, possesses the grinding, nullify-your-offense grappling abilities that could potentially give Silva fits.
On the few occasions that Silva has looked vulnerable inside the cage, he was on his back. Against Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson and Travis Lutter, Silva's skills were completely stifled—at least briefly.
Methinks Suga could do the same. As a natural light heavyweight, he might just have the strength to do some serious damage once in top position, too (unlike Sonnen).
On top of that, Evans has never been submitted, and his wrestling-to-MMA transition in the grappling department has been sensational thus far. He is one of the strongest grapplers in the sport, and it is because he is smart and calculated with his approach.
Silva, to his credit, has some awesome takedown defense. He has thwarted 81 percent of his opponents' shots in past fights.
This number, however, is a bit inflated. Many of the avoided takedowns came as desperation shots from his challengers. The fact is, Silva has shown a vulnerability to strong wrestling in the past, even though the numbers do not necessarily indicate as much.
Off his back, Silva is dangerous. He has submitted Lutter, Henderson and Sonnen inside the Octagon—no big deal, just all three guys that actually found success against him.
I truly believe, however, that Evans' submission defense would allow him to avoid such precarious positions on the ground. In fact, if the fight turns into an extended chess match on the canvas, Suga will emerge victorious.
Beyond typical evaluations of striking and grappling skills, each matchup in the sport of MMA brings with it some unique X-factors that play a huge role in the outcome of the fight.
X-Factor for Silva: Stay off your back!
Against Evans, Silva's formula for success remains the same. If he can keep the fight standing, he can utilize his eight-limbed Muay Thai attack that has dropped so many foes in the past, and he will end Suga's night early.
However, if he cannot stuff Evans' takedowns and he cannot get back to his feet after being taken down, he is in for a long, tiresome night—a night in which he will leave the Octagon without his championship strap.
X-Factor for Evans: How's your chin, homie?
If Lyoto Machida, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Thiago Silva and Jon Jones taught us anything about Rashad Evans, it is that he crumbles like stale Tostitos when a decent shot grazes his jaw.
Since his knockout loss to Machida at UFC 98, Evans has appeared frightened and hurt any time he took a decent shot inside the cage. Silva will undoubtedly seek his chin early and often.
If Evans cannot absorb some punishment, he cannot win this fight.
Rashad Evans is a worthy challenger to Anderson Silva's middleweight title, but Suga will not be the man to squash The Spider inside the Octagon.
Despite possessing the wrestling skills necessary to pull off such a feat, Silva is too quick and accurate on the feet, and Evans' chin is not built to withstand such pressures.
I expect Evans to find success on the mat in Round 1, but after the confidence-building experience of winning a round against the champ, he will look to stand a bit longer in Round 2.
That will prove detrimental to his health.
With Silva's extensive striking arsenal, it is impossible to predict what strike will officially finish the job, but expect The Spider to drop Evans midway through Round 2 and finish the job with his scary-accurate ground-and-pound.
The king lives.
Prediction: Silva via TKO, Round 2