UFC 190 Preview: Antonio Silva vs Soa Palelei

soa-paleleiOne of the main card attractions of UFC 190 is a heavyweight contest featuring two of the largest fighters on the roster, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Soa “The Hulk” Palelei. Palelei is trying to make his way up the ladder in the heavyweight division, while Silva is trying to get back on track after consecutive knockout defeats.   Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (18-7 MMA, 2-4-1 UFC, +173 underdog) Bigfoot really made a name for himself by completely destroying the guy that many thought was the best pound fighter in the world at that time, Fedor Emelianenko. However, that was five years ago and he does not resemble the same fighter that he once was. He has been knocked out six times in his career, including his last two fights. I don’t recall him throwing a single punch in those outings, so something may be wrong with the mental aspect of his game. Further, he is very slow and plodding, does not utilize good head movement, and has not been close to the same fighter since the ban on testosterone replacement therapy went into effect. No longer being able to use TRT and failing to initiate any type of offense has hurt him badly. After all, this is the guy that beat Fedor, Andrei Arlovski, Travis Browne and Andrei Arlovski. However, his complete inability to absorb punishment has cost him dearly. Antonio also served a nine month suspension in 2014 for failing a drug test for performance enhancing drugs. Looking back it is hard to imagine him lasting five rounds with Mark Hunt when they fought about a year and a half ago, but he was still on TRT for that fight. He has had a great career but if he gets knocked out again it might be time to retire. Silva is not a big combination puncher, but he is good at swarming guys when he gets them hurt. He has decent power in his hands but does not have much of a kicking game. His straight right is probably his best punch, but he can mix things up a bit when he lets his strikes go. “Bigfoot” does most of his best work from top position, as he is extremely difficult to shake off, can pass well, and has brutal ground and pound, The only problem with that is that he does not have good wrestling, which forces him to trade with superior strikers that will be constantly targeting his weak chin.   Soa “The Hulk” Palelei (22-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC, -205 favorite) Soa was kind of written off years ago, but he has had a resurgence in recent years, even though he is now 37 years old. Since re-entering the UFC in 2014 he has compiled a 4-1 record, which includes wins over Nikita Krylov, Ruan Potts, Walt Harris, and Pat Barry. He comes into this fight after knocking out Walt Harris in November. His sole loss during that stretch was to Jared Rosholt, who used his wrestling to grind out a three round decision. Soa is not a big combination puncher, but he does have big power in his hands, especially with his right hand. He usually likes to stand for a bit then take the fight to the floor, where he is a good guard passer and has thunderous ground striking. He has knocked out quite a few fighters with his ground and pound, especially when he is able to secure full mount. For all of Soa’s strengths, he also has several weaknesses. His cardio is poor, he is very hittable, and he is also quite slow.   A few years ago Bigfoot would win this fight very easily.  However, Silva’s complete inability to absorb punishment or get any meaningful offense going leads me to side with Palelei.   The Prediction: Soa Palelei defeats Antonio Silva by knockout (round 1)

Written by Mike James

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