The co-main event of next weekend’s UFC Fight Night 74 is a welterweight contest between Brazilian dynamo Erick Silva and Colorado’s Neil Magny. Silva looks for his third straight win inside the Octagon, while Magny looks to get back into the win column after a submission loss to jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia just two weeks ago. Erick Silva (18-5 (1 NC) MMA, 6-4 UFC, -175 favorite) Silva’s UFC career has been quite a rollercoaster ride. He has looked impressive at times, but has failed to break into the top 10 or even pick up a signature win. Every single one of Silva’s wins inside the Octagon have come in the first round. He has lost every fight that has gone past the first round. That is certainly problematic and not the sign of a fighter that is ready to make a run at the title. For all the hype Silva has received, he has not picked up any wins against quality or ranked opponents. He enters this fight on a two-fight win streak, the first time he has put together consecutive wins inside the Octagon. Silva is a fast and explosive fighter that can finish fights both on the feet and on the ground. While on the feet he switches stances often, which creates openings and gives his opponent new looks. Silva is not much of a combination puncher, but he throws fast and powerful single strikes that are always a threat to end the fight. Throwing more combinations would certainly benefit his game, but we have not seen that yet. From the southpaw stance he features a fast straight left hand and a powerful body kick with his rear leg. Known as a brutal finisher, Silva is quick to jump on a hurt opponent or an opening on the mat. Silva’s wrestling is an underrated aspect of his game, both offensively and defensively. He runs the pipe nicely on a single leg and also possesses some good foot sweeps and trips. Much of Silva’s best work comes from top position and in scrambles. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that can adeptly pass guard and has a wide variety of submissions at his disposal. Where jiu-jitsu aces like Demian Maia will focus more on position, Silva will not hesitate to give up position if he thinks he can lock in a submission. This can be both good and bad, as he either gets the submission or winds up on bottom if he fails to secure the tap. Besides the limited nature of his striking attack, Silva’s biggest weakness has shown to be his endurance. He has gassed out badly in several fights that have gone past the first round. Neil Magny (15-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC, +155 underdog) Magny does not often get the respect he deserves from fans and pundits. Even though Neil racked up seven straight wins in the UFC’s welterweight division between February 2014 and May 2015, he failed to impress many fans due to the nature of some of the fights. Several of the contests were lackluster, especially at the beginning of the streak. However, Magny really turned a corner in the last year, as he finished four out of his last five wins. Magny initially entered the UFC as a competitor on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter. He has notable wins over Hyun Gyu Lim, Alex Garcia, Tim Means, and Kiichi Kunimoto. The 28-year old is a member of The Elevation Fight Team, which is based out of Denver, Colorado and home to fellow UFC fighters Cat Zingano, Nate Marquardt, and Brandon Thatch. Standing in at 6’ 3” tall and holding an 80” reach, Magny holds a sizeable height and length advantage over most fighters in the division. In this matchup he will hold a 3” height and 6” reach advantage over Silva. Neil has been criticized by many observers for not utilizing those advantages more. He often punches himself into a clinch or closes the distance for his opponent. This was troublesome in his last fight against Maia, as he found himself getting taken down and worked over on the ground. Magny is a well-rounded fighter that can do a bit of everything. His striking attack features a long, crisp jab that he follows up nicely with a straight right hand. He works kicks to the legs and body from range, as well as knees to all levels in the clinch. Additionally, Magny is a competent wrestler that hits a decent double and single leg, but he can be taken down by superior grapplers. While he is by no means a fish out of water on the ground, he will have trouble against the elite grapplers in the division. We have seen him get thoroughly dominated on the mat by two of the best jiu-jitsu fighters in the division, Maia and Sergio Moraes. It will be interesting to see if Silva can replicate the success they had on the ground against Magny. One of the best aspects of Neil’s game is his excellent conditioning. He has the ability to push a high pace for all three rounds and can break opponents that cannot keep up. That may be just what Magny looks to do against Silva, who does not have good conditioning and has faded in several past fights. Thoughts: Any Erick Silva fight is interesting because you know he is going to be hell on wheels for that first round. As I mentioned above, every fighter that has survived the first round against Silva has gone on to win. Magny’s excellent conditioning and high pace may be a good counter to Silva’s explosiveness and athleticism. From a betting standpoint it is hard to trust Silva because of the flaws in his game. However, I do think he can win this fight if he fights smart. Silva should have a pretty sizeable advantage on the ground, especially early. If he is able to get this to the canvas in the first round I like his chances of locking in a submission. Magny will look to utilize his jab and superior footwork and slowly take over this fight as it gets into the second and third rounds. If Magny is able to drag this past the first I like his chances of winning. However, I am not sure if he will be able to do that. Silva is so dangerous early and Magny has shown us that he can be worked over and submitted by high level jiu-jitsu fighters. Silva’s submissions are not on the same level as Maia and Moraes, but he is still lethal on the ground. I have gone back and forth with this one, but I will go with Silva getting his hand raised after locking in a submission in the first. The Prediction: Erick Silva defeats Neil Magny by submission (round 1, armbar)
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