After watching Antonio Silva receive a bloody beatdown in his UFC debut against Cain Velasquez, it was hard to imagine that he would ever be part of the heavyweight championship picture.
Yet, here he is, fighting for the heavyweight championship—against Velasquez no less.
Silva bounced back from his demoralizing loss in the most emphatic way possible. As Fightnomics points out, he came through with knockouts in back-to-back fights despite being the underdog in both bouts.
Fightnomics Reed @Fightnomics
Despite a win streak Antonio Bigfoot Silva has gone from mild (+170 vs Browne) to big (+390 vs Overeem) to huge (+500 vs Velasquez) underdog2013-5-20 20:40:02
Against Velasquez, Silva once again faces long odds. Here's what it will take to reverse them again.
This won't be easy.
According to FightMetric, Velasquez completes more than six takedowns per 15 minutes, which is an incredible amount. Once he finds a way to drag opponents to the ground, the round (or fight) is usually over.
Velasquez will rain down strikes until he leaves his opponent completely exhausted or the ref comes in to stop the fight. Silva should know—he didn't even make it past the first round with Velasquez on top of him in their first meeting.
However, the champ only completes 52 percent of his takedown attempts, so turning him away isn't a completely lost cause.
Silva can't afford to be put on his back.
Look for His Own Takedowns
One thing that Silva has on Velasquez is size. If he finds a way to put the champion on his back, he'll offer a challenge that few have been able to bring to the champion.
Velasquez defends 88 percent of takedown attempts, but if Silva abandons takedowns entirely, it could be a short night. Even if Silva fails to complete his takedown attempts, they can at least allow him to clinch and wear down the champion.
Silva has impressive ground-and-pound in his own right. If he wants to reverse roles this time around, he'll have to find a way to get Velasquez to the ground.
Swing for the Fences
There's a reason that Velasquez is the champion and favorite here. He is supremely talented and holds every advantage over Silva.
The one thing that Silva has going for him, though, is power. Especially in the heavyweight division, power can be the great equalizer.
Velasquez hasn't shown many holes in his game, but it's fair to say that a case could be made that his chin is a bit suspect. After all, he originally lost the belt from just one well-landed punch from Junior dos Santos and was caught a few times by Cheick Kongo in their fight.
Silva can't be afraid to let his hands go. His incredible knockout power got him this far, and he must rely on it against the champion.
Just one well-connected shot could shock the MMA world.