Erick Silva (14-3 1 NC, 2-2 UFC) vs. Jason High (16-3, 0-1 UFC)
Silva and High will meet in what could be a very entertaining welterweight bout on the UFC On FUEL TV 10 main card. Silva was originally scheduled to meet John Hathaway, but Hathaway was forced out due to injury, and in stepped High, who was scheduled for the preliminary card. Silva is 3-2 over his last five fights and is coming in off a loss to Jon Fitch. High moves over from Strikeforce riding a seven-fight win streak since a loss in his lone UFC appearance.
Fight Breakdown: Silva has been touted as one of the most promising prospects to come into the UFC’s welterweight division, with his name being mentioned alongside Rory MacDonald as up-and-coming title contenders. Silva has won just two of his four UFC fights, but he really should have won three as the loss on his record to Carlo Prater at UFC 142 has been seen as a bad call by referee Mario Yamasaki, who controversially disqualified Silva for punches to the back of Prater’s head. It was a judgment call, and replays showed that Yamasaki may have been in the wrong, but it was a loss for Silva regardless. He fought a tough fight against Jon Fitch at UFC 153 in his last Octagon appearance, and while Silva lost the fight, it was an excellent fight and showed what Silva needs to work on if he is going to become a top contender.
High was likely the top contender for the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship at the time of the closure of Strikeforce, and he comes back to the UFC on the heels of seven straight wins. He fought once in the UFC, losing to Charlie Brenneman in March 2010, but he has yet to lose since then. He had a very quick 26-second submission win over Nate Moore in his last fight, but that was nearly 11 months ago, and he has been inactive since with no reports of injuries. High was originally set to make his UFC return against Ildemar Alcantara during the preliminary portion of this fight card, but when John Hathaway fell out due to injury, High jumped at the chance to move to the main card and showcase himself against the highly-talented Silva.
The blueprint for defeating Silva was layed out by Fitch, and if Silva has not improved on his takedown defense, then he is going to be in a lot of trouble against High. High has very solid wrestling, and while he striking is good enough to get by, it is not as good as Silva’s striking, and High will not be afraid to take the fight to the ground over-and-over-and-over again. Silva was able to take a wrestler the caliber of Fitch down when they bought, but he tired over the course of the 15 minutes and was completely exhausted in the final round, where Fitch really took the fight over. High should look to utilize takedowns to wear Silva out, and do enough with ground-and-pound and working from the top to keep the fight planted on the canvas. Silva showed he can get back to his feet if taken down by a wrestler when he fought Charlie Brenneman, but the Fitch fight showed exactly what he needed to work on.
High has to get the fight to the ground if he is going to win the fight. Silva has a very solid advantage on the feet and High is a threat at being knocked out, especially if he is unable to anticipate it. Silva is lethal with both his hands and feet and High will need to stay outside of the striking range of Silva and set up his takedown attempts from a distance. Silva will make High pay the closer they come together, and a clinch battle will allow Silva to mix in some knees. Silva does have a black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu so he will know how to work off of his back if he is planted on the canvas. Conditioning will be a factor if High is able to work in his wrestling. Silva got extremely tired in the fight with Fitch and he will need to not gas out as quickly. The fight staying on the feet favors Silva, but the fight on the ground leans in High’s direction. It may go to the scorecards, and Silva’s striking will be enough to edge the decision.
Why It Matters: Silva was well on his way to title contention when he ran into Jon Fitch. Fitch was the big test he needed to pass to get into the top ten rankings, and he faultered at it. Fighting High is a chance to get himself back into the win column against a solid opponent, but not one who is known to a ton of UFC fans. Silva is favored in this fight, but maybe too much as he is a four-to-one favorite. He needs the win if he is ever going to break into the top of the welterweight division.
High has put together an impressive winning streak with the seven straight victories, but this is his toughest fight in several years. Fighting Ildemar Alcantara was better suited for him, but you can’t argue that it wasn’t a good move to accept the fight with Silva when John Hathaway pulled out. High was one-and-done during his last time with the UFC, and if he loses, he will get another shot, especially considering he’s doing them a favor by filling in. High wanted that title shot in Strikeforce but got passed over. This is his chance to prove why he deserved it and get his first win inside the Octagon.