When your division includes names like Machida, "Rampage", Evans, and Hua, winning is the only way to keep your hopes of advancing alive. Saturday, Aug. 29, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva intend to do just that: Win.
So how does this LHW match shape up? Who holds the tools necessary to stand, hand raised in the middle of the octagon, and move one step closer to a run at the title?
What does a win for either fighter signify?
Jardine is known as one of the most unorthodox fighters in the UFC today. He boasts wins over former champs Griffin and Liddell, and has developed as a fighter who can put together a strong game plan to attack his opponent on many levels.
While his wins over former champions look good on paper, Jardine has suffered defeat in three of his last five fights, with two coming by first round knockouts.
Thiago Silva had his run at the title cut short in his loss to current Champ Lyoto Machida, (the first loss of Silva's career). Showing to be an explosive fighter, Silva's 13 wins include 10 by KO/TKO and two by submission, (one submission credited to "Strikes").
Silva needs to prove that he is relevant in the LHW division by posting wins over top tier opponents, a feat he could accomplish by beating Jardine.
What should boast well for the viewer are the contrasting styles of these two fighters, and how each will try to use his own talents to capture the win.
Jardine's counter striking and brutal leg attacks have shown that he can neutralize a powerstriker and become very hard to hit when he's allowed to move around the ring.
If Jardine is allowed to keep his distance and work any type of game plan, he will be very hard to beat. As was shown in the Vera fight, Jardine has developed "patience" with his attacks and does not appear to be blindly “attacking the attacker,” a trait which cost him dearly against Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva.
Silva is an "in your face" striker, and when he is allowed to get inside and throw bombs, he ends fights quickly. Looking at where Jardine has shown vulnerability, I must believe that Silva's approach will follow a "seek and destroy" mentality.
Silva has shown that he has the power to knock an opponent straight to the mat, and if he can stay away from Jardine’s leg attacks, close the distance and land big punches...he will do just that.
Looking at what this fight symbolizes to each fighter is just as important as looking at their skills in the ring.
Jardine has walked a wandering path throughout the LHW division, and a win over Silva would give him a much needed win over a challenging opponent.
While this wouldn't be enough to elicit a title shot, what I believe a win would do is set up a fight for Jardine against the winner of Franklin/Belfort or a possible striker like Luis Cane or Jon Jones.
A win for Silva would help cement the notion that he is a top tier LHW, and could lead to many of the same match-ups that a Jardine victory would create.
Given the fact that his only loss is to the current champ, I believe that Silva could be looking at “two wins from the belt” if given the right circumstances with other outcomes in the division.
Fights like Silva vs. Belfort or Jardine vs. Franklin would certainly be viewed as hopefuls for creating the fights between the respective winners and losers of Jackson/Evans and Machida/Hua.
Each fighter knows this, and knows the importance of coming away with a "W" that Saturday night.
Having looked at the style of the two fighters and what stands to be won that night, I believe that Thiago Silva will walk away a winner.
Unless Jardine is able to set up and create distance with his leg attacks, I believe his vulnerability to big striking will be the determining factor in this fight.
I see the fight ending by TKO/KO, and Silva making another run at the title. Jardine has not been able to get away from being a “gatekeeper” for the LHW division, and I do not see that changing in this fight. While both fighters need a win, I feel that Silva’s abilities will get him there that night.
Best of luck to both fighters. I wish them a great fight, and hope they both walk safely out of the ring afterwards.
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