What Silva vs. Griffin really means
You really don't need to look further than the style matchup generated by
Before we go there: Who's going to win?
Silva's the better striker. We know this. He's accurate to the point of a pin. While he may not be a wrestler by trade, the Brazilian isn't one to go to his back without some effort. And on the off chance he needs to fight on the ground, his long limbs, sharp elbows and black belt in jiu-jitsu make the whole experience rather unappealing.
But Griffin is hardly a slouch. A fairly successful striking game melded with an inconsistent defense has been the recipe for many wars featuring one of the UFC's most popular stars. He isn't going to out-technique Silva, yet it's hard to imagine Griffin being overwhelmed by much of anything. And playing it smart on the canvas has been a key to his success, even if defense in the guard has failed him from time to time.
A noteworthy intangible: Silva will step into the cage the smaller fighter, making this a real test of his pound-for-pound status. How the UFC's middleweight champion copes with facing someone who could easily fight in shape at 225 pounds will be worth paying attention to. And though
It all adds up to a compelling fight, which I like Silva to win. Skipping the 20-pound weight cut he needs to reach the middleweight limit should enhance his power, and Griffin isn't enough of a wrestler to threaten Silva with a prolonged stint on the canvas. At some point, I like the Brazilian champion to catch Griffin and put him away.
Regardless of the outcome, there will be important storylines that emerge because of this fight:
At the moment, it's hard to gauge just how much damage Silva inflicted on his career with consecutive performances that left media critical and fans perplexed. If he manages a snoozer against Griffin -- no easy feat -- the reputation that he's avoiding engagement to secure safe wins will have been cemented. That doesn't mean he needs to go out guns blazing. There just needs to be a real effort on Silva's part to hurt Griffin and finish the fight.
It's not easy to imagine a UFC lightweight title fight between
Yes. The only way the UFC gets hurt by this fight is if its middleweight champ comes out with another disappointing effort.
Tons of factors here, but Silva and his camp are on record saying they want the most challenging, big-money fights the UFC can provide for the last four bouts on his contract, which he has repeatedly said could be his last in MMA.
We already know about Griffin. And it seems no matter what the result is on Aug. 8, Silva will return to middleweight to defend against either
Here is where it gets interesting.
A win over Griffin, and a loss by
Silva began his career at a slender 167 pounds. In fact, after winning the Shooto title in 2001 over
The big carrot, of course, is
A win for Griffin would make two victories against men who were arguably No. 1 pound-for-pound at the time (