With the UFC 160 extended trailer released a couple days ago and with the fights coming up in under 3 weeks we felt there was no better time than now to preview the main event fight between heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and top contender, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. UFC 160 will go down on Saturday, May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. As usual, the main card fights will start at 10pm ET, the prelims start at 8pm ET and the Facebook prelims start at 6:30pm ET.
UFC 160 will mark the second meeting between Velasquez and Silva. The first took place almost exactly a year prior, at UFC 146 on May 26, 2012. In an extremely bloody battle, Velasquez was able to dispose of Silva via nasty elbows and punches from top position on the ground in their first match-up. In Silva’s pre-fight interview, he mentioned that he deviated from his gameplan in going for a leg kick early in the fight and that leg kick was what allowed Velasquez to get the takedown that allowed him to eventually stop Silva. Realistically, there are a couple of important questions we are left with following the initial fight leading up to this rematch. Firstly, after being thoroughly dominated in their first match-up, is there any reason to believe that Silva can pull off the upset in this second match-up. Secondly, if our model predicts that Velasquez will win, is there any value in placing a bet at just 1.16 to 1?
Does Silva stand a chance?
Since the aforementioned prior match-up, Silva has won 2 straight, although in both fights, it seemed the gods of MMA were smiling down on him. Firstly, in October, 2012, Silva faced Travis Browne in the main event of a UFC on FX event. Luckily for Silva, Browne injured his leg early on and was unable to strike with any efficiency. Silva took advantage and was able to finish Browne with strikes before the 3 and a half minute mark of the first round. Following that, Silva faced a returning from suspension “Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem. Silva was dominated in the contest and went into the third round down 2 rounds to 0. For some unknown reason, Overeem decided to rush his opponent and paid for it with a flurry of punches that eventually knocked him unconscious. In each of these two fights, it was good fortune for Silva that helped him earn the victory, rather than any innate abilities.
Velasquez has fought just once since the two last matched up, but it was an incredible performance. Velasquez was able to dominate then champ, Junior Dos Santos in all aspects of MMA, including on the feet, for 3 full rounds. This earned him a unanimous decision victory and regained him the title he had lost at the inaugural UFC on FOX show in November, 2011. Velasquez was really able to prove he is the top heavyweight in MMA and completely deserving of being the champ.
We see Velasquez relentlessly attempting takedowns on Silva and eventually bringing “Bigfoot” to the ground. This is evidenced by Velasquez’s 6.61 average number of takedowns per 15 minute fight and his 52% takedown success rate, not the highest in the game, but an indicator that he may not succeed every time, but he will fight like a dog and continue to attempt to take his opponents down until he is able to make it happen. Velasquez also defends 88% of takedowns attempted against him which can be credited to his NCAA division 1 wrestling credentials. Silva is able to stop just 63% of takedowns attempted against him. And few of those have been against fighters with the wrestling credentials of Velasquez.
Is there any value in Velasquez?
Our new model has Valsquez as a heavy favourite in this bout. The current money line of 1.16 to 1 though, makes us hesitant to place a bet. For now, we won’t be placing a bet on the champ, but we will wait to see how the money line moves as fight time approaches as well as considering parlaying Velasquez with other fighters on the card to make the payoff a little sweeter.
Stay tuned in the next couple weeks as we bring you our picks for UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs Rockhold as well as main card picks for UFC 160.
Here are the latest odds for UFC 160: