UFC 99 crucial to Silva's future
It's a tough time to be a legend of MMA. The hungry crop of next-generation fighters is always nipping at your heels, the threat of a
"A few years ago I was at the end of the line [of fighters to retire]," he said with a wry laugh. "Now I am at the front of the line."
Such is the life of a fighter, particularly one whose style is built upon a foundation of power and aggression. Once they slow down and other fighters begin to catch up, the decline comes sharply.
But the 32-year-old insists he still has a few more good battles left in him. His catchweight bout with Franklin gives him an opponent a little closer to his own size as he migrates from 205 down to 185 pounds, and it gives him a chance to prove that there might really be another life for him in a different division.
"If [White] comes to me and says to stop, I will respect this," he said. "But after my next fight, you'll see, he will say, 'Please don't stop.'"
The problem is that, stylistically, Franklin might be the worst type of fighter for Silva to stage his renaissance against. He's an experienced, technical striker who doesn't take needless risks and isn't easily rattled. The only people who've managed to out-strike him in his illustrious career are current UFC champs
A smart fighter -- which Franklin has always been -- would look to keep his distance from Silva, picking him apart from the outside and frustrating him into charging in recklessly for the kill.
In years past Silva wouldn't have waited until he was frustrated to come sailing into his opponents with a blur of hooks and elbows; he would have barely waited for the opening bell. Then again, in years past it would have worked. Those days are gone now. If Silva wants to stick around, he needs to figure out a new approach and a new way to win. He also needs to figure it out by Saturday, because time is running out.
As good as he is on the feet, and even when he's working out of someone else's guard, Kongo isn't the best at avoiding takedowns or at working off his back. He got outwrestled by both
If Velasquez sticks to his strengths and doesn't try to prove that he can kickbox with the best of them, he should take this one. It won't be as easy as simply shooting for a couple of double-legs and waiting for the round to end, so if he's anything less than completely committed to his game plan, Kongo could make him pay. Chances are, Velasquez's trainers at American Kickboxing Academy have mentioned this to him a time or two already, so expect this one to hit the mat early and often.
On the other hand, the UFC is giving him every opportunity to shine by matching him up against
As you've probably heard by now,
As for the fight itself, it has potential to show the fighters' true skills. Hardy has striking to rival Davis', and he answered any questions about his power with a first-round knockout of