If this bout looks familiar, it’s because almost a year ago Cain Velasquez painted the Octagon red with Antonio Silva’s blood at UFC 146.
But “Bigfoot” Silva has also done the improbable to get back here. After being a mild underdog against Travis Browne (+190), then a big underdog against Alistair Overeem (+390), Silva is now a huge underdog in his rematch with Velasquez (+550).
Despite a two-fight win streak and a win over one of the greatest heavyweights of all time in Fedor Emelianenko, we all seem to still be ignoring the existence of Bigfoot. So let’s look at the stat line and see if that’s justified.
Tale of tape:
These are heavyweights, and they go large. But Silva will be the larger fighter with a height and reach advantage. But Silva is also the older of the two and pushing 34, approaching a risky range for knockouts. This looks like a wash to me, or perhaps a slight physical advantage to Silva that he won’t be able to back up for long.
While Silva has a very slight edge in striking accuracy, it’s the more important metrics of pace and power that give a big advantage to Velasquez. Velasquez can outpace the bigger, slower Silva out of the gates and the knockdown ratings favor the champ both in his fists and in his chin.
Don’t let the raw number of the defensive knockdown stat fool you. Bigfoot is three times as likely to get dropped by a landed power head strike than Velasquez. The chin of a fighter is more important than ever in heavyweight fights. If this stays standing, Bigfoot will still have the heavyweight puncher’s chance, but per exchange Velasquez will likely do more damage.
On the ground is where it gets worse. Velasquez has been completely dominant on the ground, and frequently looks to take the fight there to work ground and pound. While Silva once used ground and pound against Fedor, putting Velasquez on his back will be very difficult. Though Silva has a black belt in BJJ, both his recent losses are against strong wrestlers (Cormier and Velasquez).
It may not be the answer promoters want to hear, but this fight should strongly resemble the first. Velasquez can take and win this fight anywhere and he has the stamina to do it round after round. But given how powerful he is, the end should come much sooner than the championship rounds.
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Reed Kuhn writes for MMAOddsbreaker.com and runs Fightnomics.com.