The first fight on the UFC Fight Night 203 main card this weekend is between two elite finishing strikers, one being an elite kickboxer, Alex Pereira (4-1), and the other, heavy-handed Bruno Silva (22-6).
Pereira has a 100% finish rate and Silva has a 86%, all by TKO/KO. The impressive fight-ending ability coupled with each having an affinity to stand and throw makes for a matchup that should allow the judges and fans to sit back, grab some popcorn, and prepare to watch a social media trending finish!
Pereira is a relatively short -180 favorite over the more experienced Silva.
- Pereira: -180
- Silva: +155
Pereira is a world-renowned kickboxer who has famously gotten the better of current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, not once, but twice. Moreover, of Adesanya’s 103 professional fights, Pereira is the only fighter to have finished the current UFC champion. This nod in the feather of Pereira’s fight cap has justifiably led individuals within the MMA community believing he is on the fast track to climb the middleweight division and challenge for the belt.
Beyond historical accolades alone, Pereira has shown skills inside the octagon as a professional MMA fighter. In the striking department, he does well utilizing his impressive size and length advantage to stay at range and use his long-range attacks of kicks to all levels to inflict damage. Once the opponent has been hurt, Pereira uses his athletic movement to bounce in range to land in combination and bounce right out to negate a counterattack. This style is synonymous with fighters who employ a heavy kickboxing approach, and given his background as a fighter and given he is relatively new to the MMA scene, Pereira wants to make the fight into a kickboxing bout more so than a true showcase of MMA. The issue for him is that although he has unsurprisingly elite striking, he has a clear weakness in the grappling department that has been exploited in his brief 5 fight professional MMA career. So, if his opponent can negate the long-range attacks and shoot in for a takedown, the opponent will likely secure the takedown quite easily and inflict serious damage to Pereira.
Silva is not shy about rushing in on his opponent to secure the victory. The difference in a heavy-pressure, rush-type style, is that Silva desires to enter the pocket to put his opponent to sleep contrary to looking to rush in to snag a leg and secure a takedown. When in the pocket, Silva throws in crisp boxing combinations with incredibly heavy hands. Although he would likely prefer to put a tire in the center of the octagon, have he and his opponent put a foot in, stand there and throw until one falls, Silva’s opponents often use movement and kicks to combat the boxing desire of Silva.
Knowing this counter tactic to his game plan, Silva, as a true MMA fighter, has shown the ability to use calf kicks when the fight is at range and shown the ability to secure a takedown when needed. For the latter, Silva’s wrestling is far more of a smoke-and-mirror approach, given he is not great once on top. Even though this is the case, the threat of a successful takedown makes his opponent slow as the fight goes on, and once slowed in movement, Silva is able to successfully rush in and land his fight-ending boxing combination.
There are several critical questions in this matchup. The first is if Silva will be willing to wrestle early in the bout and if Pereira will have the skills to negate the potential takedowns of Silva. The second is if Pereira will be able to successfully implement the same style of Israel Adesanya, whereby he penalizes those who blindly rush in on him via a check left hook and penalizes those who remain too passive on the feet, thus allowing him to piece up his opponent from range. Knowing Silva has had great success in rushing in on his opponents throughout his 7-fight win streak, I believe the latter questions are not too much of a concern for him. For the former, the fact that Silva has skills to wrestle and has shown an understanding of how wrestling can open up striking, I believe Silva will execute the presumably strong game plan of wrestling early in the bout. For these reasons, I believe Silva will halt the hype of Pereira.
Bet: Bruno Silva to win