Heavy MMA staffers go head-to-head with their analysis of the Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinal
Before Antonio Silva and Daniel Cormier meet in the cage Saturday night in the first of two Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals on the Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov card, Heavy MMA writers E. Spencer Kyte (1-0) and Duane Finley (0-1) renew acquaintances in the second installment of The Face-Off.
Kyte earned a narrow split decision victory in the debut when Edson Barboza edged Ross Pearson at UFC 134, and looks to remain undefeated, while Finley aims to get into the win column with an upset pick in Saturday night’s co-main event.
The Case for Antonio Silva (Kyte)
Just let me start by saying that I’m proud to enter this second meeting as the reigning and defending champion. I fully intend to go on an Anderson Silva-like run in this series, beginning by making it two-in-a-row here.
The thing about forecasting and analyzing heavyweight fights is that there is always another dimension that comes into play that doesn’t exist anywhere else: size.
In every other division, the opposing fighters have to step on the scale and hit the same weight the day before the fight. Sure, one may put more mass back on in the 24 hours between the scale and the cage, but they’ve at least had to go through the process of shedding those extra pounds to start.
That doesn’t happen in the big boy division, and more and more we’re seeing the tremendous impact size can have on the outcome of a heavyweight fight.
If these two competed in any other division, Cormier would probably be favored. He’s faster, has a tremendous wrestling base, and showed improved striking in his win over veteran Jeff Monson. At middleweight or light heavyweight, you could see him taking Silva down, controlling him on the ground and grinding out a victory.
That isn’t going to happen here.
Cormier steps into the cage somewhere south of 240 pounds; Silva cuts weight to get under the 265 pound ceiling of the division. Additionally, “Bigfoot” will have a ten-inch reach advantage and an almost nine-inch height advantage on Cormier too. Those are simply measurables that the former Olympian is not going to be able to overcome.
I would give Cormier much more of a chance if he were merely facing a bigger man with lesser skills. He’s faced opponents who were bigger than him before and came away victorious, but Soa Palelei and Tony Johnson aren’t nearly as talented as Silva is when the cage door closes.
In addition to being massive, Silva is skilled as well. He has knockout power and steadily improving stand-up. Where he used to look awkward, he’s shown more fluidity on his feet since debuting in Strikeforce. Where he’s most dangerous, however, is on the ground.
A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Silva is just as capable of submitting an opponent as he is using his size to gain dominant positions and pound out a win. All you need to do is look back at the way Silva smashed on Fedor Emelianenko last time out and you’ll see a blueprint of what is going to happen here.
Silva by being gigantic and pounding out a finish in the second round.
The Case for Daniel Cormier (Finley)
The sting of a loss to ESK is still fresh, but it was a close fought split decision, and if you are going to lose a face-off, it might as well come that way. Bouncing back from a loss, every fighter looks to make adjustments and where most become a bit more technical with their game planning, I’m just letting it all hang loose for Daniel Cormier.
Most of the talk I’m hearing is that Silva is simply too large for Cormier to have a chance in this fight, but where others are saying size will be the X-factor, I believe it to be something Cormier can handle.
We have entered the “Age of the Wrestler” in MMA; if you want proof, take a quick look at the current list of UFC champions. With the exception of Anderson Silva, every one of them count wrestling as their strength. That being said, Cormier is one of the most decorated wrestler in all of MMA. In addition to having a tremendous wrestling base, the rest of his skills have become stronger, giving him more options and making him more than simply being able to take an opponent down.
I believe Cormier will look to use his speed and wrestling to put Silva on his back and keep him there. Being a BJJ black belt makes Silva dangerous, but when facing a top caliber wrestler like Cormier, it is all about control and positioning.
Cormier has a rough road ahead of him this Saturday night, but I see him using his speed and agility to come out ahead, winning a unanimous decision in an ugly, grinding affair.
That’s how I see it and that’s how it’s going to happen.