Mike Doyle brings us a preview of the Sylvia vs. Silva fight and Bonnar vs. Irvin fights that take place tonight at 10:00pm ET FREE on Spike T.V
Tim Sylvia vs. Assuerio Silva
The UFCs heavyweight division is without question the organizations weakest, so this fight will undoubtedly produce a top contender for Andrei Arlovskis title. Former heavyweight champion Tim the Maine-iac Sylvia will be looking to continue his winning ways in hopes of getting another shot at the crown, while Assuerio Silva will be making his long-awaited debut in the UFC after an impressive fighting career in Brazil and Japan. These two were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 54, but a knee injury sidelined Silva and Sylvia went on to KO Tra Telligman in stunning fashion. What is sure to make this fight even more interesting is that leading up to their planned fight in August, Silva made some comments about how he was very confident he would be victorious due to the fact all the top fighters in the world were in Pride, and it wasnt too difficult to win the UFCs belt today. Well find out what type of response Sylvia has for those remarks on January 16th.
Sylvia will be looking to use this fight as an opportunity to showcase his skills in the main event in front of a national audience, to firmly reestablish himself as one of the top heavyweights in the world again. Back in 2003, Sylvia was on top of the UFC heavyweight division having just beaten Ricco Rodriguez for the title and then disposing of Gan McGee in his first title defense, but his fate quickly changed. After his fight with McGee at UFC 44 he tested positive for steroids, forcing him to relinquish his title, received a fine of $7500 and was suspended for four months. Once all that dust settled, Sylvia was cleared to make his return to the Octagon at UFC 48 to battle Frank Mir for the then vacant title, and things went from bad to worse for big Tim. Early in the fight Mir caught Sylvia in a tight armbar and instead of tapping, Sylvia attempted to pick his opponent up and slam him, but his arm snapped in the process. Sylvia was out of action for 6 months while his arm healed, although after a quick tune-up fight against nemesis Wes Simms in SuperBrawl where he registered a first round TKO he was ready to step back into the Octagon. This setup an interim championship match against Andrei Arlovski, as Mir was now sidelined indefinitely with a broken leg in a motorcycle accident. Arlovski quickly took advantage of a hole in Sylvias game as he dropped the Maine-iac with a right hand, after noticing Sylvia tended to pull his jab back too slowly after throwing a punch. On the ground Arlovski was able to secure an Achilles lock for the submission win.
After appearances in Pride FC, and countless other small promotions Assuerio Silva has been on somewhat of a hot streak, losing only once in past six years. However, his last fight was a decision victory over Alessio Sakara, which took place over a year ago. Silva possesses a background in Thai boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has experience training with some of the top camps in MMA. He use to train with the famed Chute Boxe Academy, then moved over to the Mauy Thai Dream Team, but that only lasted 10 months. He presently doesnt belong to any team, but does work out with karate legend Ademir da Costa. In his recent loss, which was to Aleksander Emelianenko, Silva had an extremely hard time overcoming the size advantage of the 6-6 Emelianenko, as he didnt really look to engage with Aleksander standing up, and often just covered up when the Russian let his hands go. Silva stands only 5-11, so hell again be giving up a huge reach advantage to the 6-8 Sylvia, however, one difference is that Emelianenko looked to close the distance in their fight and get into a clinch to set up his judo throws, Sylvia will likely be more then content to keep the fight standing (after the Mir episode). Silva has solid striking skills, but if the fight turns into a striking contest it would have to favor the Maine-iac. Yet, Silvas jiu-jitsu might be able to offset the huge size advantage, but having trained with the likes of Matt Hughes, Sylvia has proved to be a very tough fighter to take down, as was evident when he thwarted Ricco Rodriguez takedown attempts. It will also be interesting to see what happens if this fight goes past the first round, as Sylvias UFC debut against Cabbage Correira is the only time in the past four years any of his fights have gone past the first round.
Prediction: Sylvia (1st round KO)
Stephan Bonnar vs. James Irvin
This is another fight that was scheduled to occur earlier, but a hand injury suffered by fan favorite Stephan Bonnar in preparation for an October clash with James Irvin has delayed the match until now. Now healthy, Bonnar will be returning to the Octagon coming off his 1st UFC victory at UFN 1 when he registered a unanimous decision over fellow Ultimate Fighter Sam Hoger. Irvin on the other hand is coming into this fight riding the momentum of his spectacular KO win at UFC 54 against Terry Martin, fighting at his new weight of 205 lbs.
Even though Bonnar hasnt been in the Octagon since August, hes still been making appearances at all the shows and been getting plenty of camera time clowning with Forrest Griffin just when Forest and Stephan will go visit Frankenstein is anyones guess. Anyhow, the Hoger fight was Bonnars first match back inside the Octagon since his infamous match with Griffin, and for the second consecutive time the fight went to the judges scorecards. What seems to be lost on Bonnar because of his war with Griffin in April is the fact he is a BJJ practitioner under Carlson Gracie and the majority of his wins are submission. He submitted Mike Swick on the reality show, and even caught Hoger in a kimura during their fight. However, in his last outing it appeared as though Bonnar was fatigued and elected to play it safe and take the fight to the ground, rather then stand-up and strike.
Irvins strengths are his athletic ability and punching power, which is the reason he prefers to stand-up and strike. In his Octagon debut at UFC 51 as a heavyweight he was overwhelmed by Mike Kyles distinct size advantage and was KOd in the first round. Irvin had always been a small heavyweight and decided to drop down a division and now fights at 205lbs. In preparation for his most recent appearance against Terry Martin at UFC 54 he was training with MMA notables Rampage Jackson, Randy Couture and Frank Trigg. During the fight, Martin was able to control Irvin on the ground and against the cage as Irvin didnt possess any type of threat in the 1st round. However, Irvin landed a vicious flying knee right at the start of the 2nd round and recorded a highlight reel KO.
This fight has all the makings of being a stand up battle, and given Bonnars somewhat lackluster performance his last time in the Octagon you can bet he will likely look to stand and trade with Irvin initially. Irvin thought he lost a bit of strength when he dropped down to his new weight to fight Martin, but feels his conditioning and endurance is much further ahead then where it was in preparation for his previous fight. Even though Irvin has worked on his sprawl, I think Bonnar will eventually be able to take this fight to the ground and work for a GnP stoppage or submission.
Prediction: Bonnar (2nd round TKO)