Analyzing Silva-Jackson III

Intangibles, Prediction

By Jason Probst Dec 25, 2008
Jeff Sherwood/

Probst likes Jackson in the
third phase of one of
MMA's finest trilogies.

Jackson’s arrest in July after his loss to Griffin resulted in two felony and four misdemeanor charges, to which he has plead not guilty, after a driving incident spurred by what seems to have be an emotional breakdown following the loss of his title. While the incident happened five months ago, the lingering prospect of a conviction and potential jail time would be a troublesome cloud for any athlete to deal with coming into a fight. He also parted ways with manager/trainer Juanito Ibarra after the bout. Add it all up, and it’s pretty much the icing on the cake, it would seem, that he has to face Silva of all people. But often fighters respond to these types of circumstances with a great performance.

Remember Mike Tyson in early 1988? Coming into his long-anticipated showdown with Michael Spinks, Tyson had trouble on every possible front. His marriage to Robin Givens was red-hot fodder for both mainstream publications and tabloids; he’d been wildly embarrassed by his wife in a sit-down interview with Barbara Walters, with Givens treating him as though he were some wild animal she was married to that needed constant care and feeding to stay domesticated. He had an endless series of brush-fire lawsuits stemming from behavior problems and was on the outs with manager Bill Cayton while Don King was putting the final touches on locking him up in perpetuity, promotionally. Many wondered if Tyson could even train properly for Spinks given the chaos surrounding his life. Yet Tyson used all that as motivation and the result was Spinks -- who suffered from no distractions whatsoever except for the fight at hand -- stretched out in 91 seconds.

Rampage has always seen himself as a guy taking on the odds and battling obstacles he shouldn’t be able to overcome. He emerged in the unfriendly confines of the Pride organization (where American fighters were often brought in as freakshow/fodder material to lose to locals) and won crowds over with his fighting style and showmanship. He knocked out Liddell to take the crown when the champ seemed at his peak, and Jackson fans were still wondering whether Rampage had mentally recovered from the two Silva defeats, a one-sided mauling from Maurico “Shogun” Rua and a lackluster decision win over middleweight Matt Lindland. He is by no means a guy you can count out simply because that’s how it looks on paper.

Silva, meanwhile, has resurrected his career after a rough patch as well. After being blasted out by Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Dan Henderson in his final two Pride bouts, he was decisioned by Liddell. But his vintage stoppage of Jardine was all he needed to show that “The Axe Murderer” can still put them away with his inimitable ferocity.

On top of it all, whoever wins could challenge the Griffin-Evans winner for the crown. As they say in the boxing game, “You’re only as good as your last fight,” and that applies readily to mixed martial arts. Both have everything to gain here, and whoever exploits the advantages given -- or taken by force -- will be the winner.

The pick: Jackson by decision.
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