Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Silva – UFC 160 Statistical Analysis and Pick May 24, 2013
UFC 160 Saturday, May 25, 2013
Heavyweight Championship: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
If this looks familiar, it’s because not quite one year ago Cain Velasquez painted the Octagon red at UFC 146 with the blood from Antonio Silva’s head. But Bigfoot Silva has also done the improbable to get back here. After being a mild underdog against Travis Browne (+190), then a big underdog against Alistair Overeem (+390), Silva is now a huge underdog in his rematch with Velasquez (+550). Despite a two-fight win streak and a win over one of the greatest heavyweights of all time in Fedor Emelianenko, we all seem to still be ignoring the existence of Bigfoot. So let’s look at the stat line and see if that’s justified.
Tale of Tape Matchup:
These are heavyweights, and they go large. But Silva will be the larger fighter with a height and reach advantage. But Silva is also the older of the two and pushing 34, approaching a risky range for knockouts. This looks like a wash to me, or perhaps a slight physical advantage to Silva that he won’t be able to back up for long.
While Silva has a very slight edge in striking accuracy, it’s the more important metrics of pace and power that give a big advantage to Velasquez on the feet. Velasquez can outpace the bigger, slower Silva out of the gates and the knockdown ratings favor the champ both in his fists and in his chin. Don’t let the raw number of the defensive knockdown stat fool you – Bigfoot is three times as likely to get dropped by a landed power head strike than Velasquez. The “chin” of a fighter is more important than ever in heavyweight fights. If this stays standing Bigfoot will still have the heavyweight puncher’s chance, but per exchange Velasquez will likely do more damage.
On the ground is where it gets worse. Velasquez has been completely dominant on the ground, and frequently looks to take the fight there to work ground and pound. While Silva once used ground and pound against Fedor, putting Velasquez on his back will be very difficult. Though Silva has a black belt in BJJ, both his recent losses are against strong wrestlers (Cormier and Velasquez).
Fight Prediction: It may not be the answer promoters want to hear, but this fight should strongly resemble the first. Cain Velasquez can take and win this fight anywhere, and he has the stamina to do it round after round. But given how powerful he is, the end should come much sooner than the championship rounds. Velasquez may play with the stand up a bit, but eventually he’ll put Silva on his back and work ground and pound as the safer path to victory. Though it’s possible that barring the nasty cut at UFC 146 Silva might have lasted much longer than just three and half minutes, the trickiest question will be when the finish will come this time. The longer the fight goes, the more lopsided it will be.
Reed’s Recommended Play: At -800, there’s not a lot of value in a straight bet on Velasquez. If anything that number could go higher. The over under at one and half rounds is a tough one to call, it’s not a lot of time to work with if Velasquez chooses to be careful, which would be warranted with the belt on the line. The better play here is to use Velasquez inside the distance at -475 in parlays to boost the value of other picks.