Erick Silva (right) remains in search of a signature victory. | Photo: Sherdog.com
WelterweightsErick Silva (15-3, 3-2 UFC) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (17-2-1, 8-2 UFC)
The Matchup: Based on his limited UFC experience, it is tempting to still refer to Silva as a prospect, but at 29 years old, the time is now for him to make a serious move in the welterweight division. Thus far, “Indio” has dominated mid-tier competition, his controversial disqualification loss to Carlo Prater notwithstanding. Most recently, Silva displayed his slick submission skills against Jason High, transitioning from a rear-naked choke to a triangle armbar to secure a first-round tapout at UFC on Fuel TV 10.
Impressive outings against the likes of High, Prater, Charlie Brenneman and Luis Ramos are one thing, but the Brazilian’s UFC 153 clash against Jon Fitch is the most useful tool for predicting how Silva might fare against Kim. In that bout, Silva cracked Fitch with a solid right hand and had him in serious danger with a rear-naked choke. However, the American wrestler was eventually able to wear down Silva in the clinch and on the ground en route to a unanimous verdict. By the third round, Silva was a spent force.
Does that mean Kim, who excels at exhausting foes with a combination of wrestling and judo, will be able to mimic Fitch’s effort? Not necessarily, but outside of a bizarre loss to Demian Maia that came as the result of a rib injury, Kim has been able to consistently impose his will in recent outings. Takedowns, positional grappling and ground-and-pound carried the Korean in recent triumphs over Siyar Bahadurzada and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Paulo Thiago.
Despite owning a black belt in both BJJ and judo, it seems unlikely that Silva will be able to outwork the “Stun Gun” over the course of 15 minutes. Instead, Silva should rely on his aggressive striking to either hurt Kim or set up opportunities for transitions or scrambles. As Carlos Condit once proved with a flying knee knockout of Kim at UFC 132, the Korean welterweight can be vulnerable to a dynamic standup arsenal.
Kim will have to use an effective jab and low kicks to keep Silva honest and counter when the opportunity presents itself. For the most part, however, Kim does a good jab at applying pressure, achieving dominant positions and maintaining them. While Silva was able to time his sprawls against the likes of Brenneman and High, Kim is on another level and could simply grind him down if the Brazilian’s conditioning falters.
The Pick: Silva is certainly capable of producing a highlight-reel finish on the feet, but Kim’s approach is tailored to minimize risk. With constant pressure, diligent clinch work and top control, Kim earns a decision.
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