Saturday, June 9, 2012
Lots of options for fast-rising Erick Silva
By Brett Okamoto
Get excited about UFC welterweight Erick Silva.
The 27-year-old prospect answered two very important questions about his game on Friday in a first-round submission win over Charlie Brenneman in Sunrise, Fla.
He can handle himself against top-notch, wrestlers and he’s comfortable fighting outside his native country of Brazil. Add to these new revelations what we already knew about Silva -- he’s a dynamic finisher -- and we’ve got something special here.
The UFC has built its share of prospects over the years and the promotion handled Silva (14-2-1) beautifully in his third fight by matching him up with Brenneman -- an opponent not all that dangerous in multiple areas but one that would hold Silva down for a full 15 minutes if allowed.
Brenneman sure tried to slow down the fight. He dragged Silva down in the first minute, but lost the position when the Brazilian attempted a heel hook. He scored another takedown in the next minute but couldn’t stop Silva from wall-walking to his feet moments later.
The referee was criticized for breaking the action twice along the fence, with Brenneman pushing Silva back and dropping for takedowns. Credit still goes to Silva though, for forcing the stalemates enough to persuade an official to step in.
The finish came when Silva transitioned to Brenneman’s back after a desperate takedown shot and flattened him out for the rear-naked choke. All of it was athletic, technical and composed.
So now, as it always is with prospects, the attention turns to what’s next. Here are a few options for the rising star.
Option 1A. Let’s see what happens between Silva and Diego Sanchez. It’s the makings of a great fight, for one. A dramatic, back-and-forth affair against a big name opponent is always a good look for a growing prospect. Plus, we find out how Silva manages against a guy who’s not going to quit. Silva might actually see a second round in this one.
Option 1B. Nearly as good a proposition is Siyar Bahadurzada. Like Sanchez, this would be a thrilling fight stylistically, matching up two very heavy-handed welterweights. Bahadurzada has only one fight in the UFC though, and part of me would rather see both of these guys grow together instead of one taking the other out.
Option 2. When Thiago Alves returns to health, having him fight Silva wouldn’t be a bad deal at all. It’s not time to completely give up on Alves yet as a title hopeful. He was 50 seconds away from a fairly one-sided win over Martin Kampmann this year, and he's still only 28. He’d need this fight. This one is tempting.
Option 3. Josh Koscheck. He would be a perfect test for Silva and although he hasn’t officially hit “gatekeeper” status, he could fill that role here. Not opposed to it, but if Koscheck wins it’s kind of a bummer because, then, what do you do with him?
Leaving off a few options that were thrown around after the fight:
• Mike Pyle got a win on the same card but excitement around Silva is high enough right now to warrant a bigger matchup than one Pyle would present.
• Why waste a fight with Silva and Rory MacDonald now? Rest easy, we’ll see that fight eventually.
• No, no and no to Mike Pierce. We just saw Silva fight a wrestler and he passed that litmus test. No need to make him retest.