Just ask Mauricio Rua, Joe Lauzon, Rampage Jackson, or practically any other fighter who sat on the sidelines for an extended period of time. Ring rust has serious consequences when a fighter begins competing again.
Anytime any athlete in any sport steps away from their game, there will be changes with who they are as a player. Luckily for most other athletes they can rely on teammates or other factors to take pressure off of themselves and reacclimate themselves at an adequate pace. Mixed martial artists don't get that luxury.
It's fight or flight with them.
When they choose to step in that cage for the first time after a layoff they don't get the opportunity to "ease" back into the sport.
So with that in mind the question changes from will ring rust be an issue for Thiago Silva to how badly will Thiago Silva be affected by ring rust? His timing will be off in the beginning. He will have to quickly learn to judge distance again. And he will most certainly need to get use to the speed at which a bout is fought at. Luckily for him, he was paired up with an opponent tailor made for all of those aspects.
Brandon Vera has a history of severely under performing.
The same man who demolished Frank Mir quicker than Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar has turned into the Michael Bisping of the light heavyweight division.
For some ungodly reason, Vera remains content to just outpoint opponents on his way to a victory. Long gone are the days when he threw his kicks and punches with bad intentions. He doesn't enter the cage looking to hurt you, he goes in there looking to survive for three rounds.
So what does this have to do with Silva and his ring rust? It means that Silva can take his time getting acquainted with the cage again. He can play with distance and speed while getting used to fighting again without having to worry about getting knocked out or submitted. He has the ability to play around for a round and not worry about getting run over by a mac truck.
Let's say, for arguments sake, Silva was matched up against Alexander Gustafsson instead. Every single time that Silva misjudged his timing or misread the distance, he would put himself in serious danger of waking up in a hospital.
With Vera, Silva may get tagged a couple of times, but so what? Outside of his fight with Keith Jardine, name a fight that Silva wasn't tagged in?
He has come back in all of them and I expect it to be no different come Saturday night.
Thiago Silva will struggle in the opening round, without question. He will have been out of the Octagon for 364 days on January 1st. It's expected. But I think he has enough in him to come back and win this fight in rounds two or three.
In all honesty, I think Vera ends up being affected more by his layoff than Silva. Sure Vera has only been out since March, but he had his orbital bone broken in the fight. How will he respond to that? Will he come out even more timid than usual? Did he rush back into a fight too soon? Only time will tell.
"The Truth" will be revealed on Saturday, make sure you don't miss it.