Fantasy Fight Prediction: Jones vs Silva

Anderson “The Spider” Silva will be defending his UFC Middleweight championship at UFC 162 in early July. A victory by Silva would be his record 17th straight UFC win and 11th straight middleweight title defense. In addition, the next guy in line would likely be Vitor Belfort who Silva was able to knock out in the first round of their February, 2011 encounter. It is definitely possible then, that Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita will be looking to other weight classes to pair Silva up with an opponent. The two likely candidates are welterweight champ Georges “Rush” St-Pierre and we previewed a match-up between Silva and St-Pierre in our first fantasy fight prediction column. That leaves light-heavyweight champ, Jon “Bones” Jones as another likely match-up for Silva. Silva has shown he can fight and have success at light-heavyweight, with wins over former champ Forrest Griffin and former WEC heavyweight champ, James Irvin.

Jon “Bones” Jones has also dominated his weight class in his young mixed martial arts career. At just 25 years old, he has already won 18 MMA contests, 15 of which came by submission or TKO. As a UFC light heavyweight, he has won 12 of his 13 contests, with his lone defeat coming by way of illegal elbow strikes in a fight with Matt Hamill that Jones clearly dominated. He has fought and defeated all of the big names in the UFC light heavyweight division including Sonnen, Belfort, Evans, Machida, Rua and Jackson. He has a couple of remaining tests in Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira, but it would be logical for the UFC to pair those two while Jones fights Anderson Silva so he can come back and fight the winner of that bout.

Here is the extended tale of the tape:

Statistic Anderson Silva Jon Jones
Height 6’2″ 6’4″
Reach 77.5 84.5
Age 38 25
Record 33-4 18-1
Knockout 20 9
Submission 6 6
SLPM* 3.17 3.94
TD** 0.72 2.78
TD Acc 0.78 0.62
TD Def 0.70 1.00
Sub Avg*** 1.13 0.86

* SLPM = Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
** TD = Takedowns per 15 minute fight
*** Sub Avg = Submissions attempted per 15 minute fight

Before analyzing the statistics listed above, we should mention that these two fighters are probably the most prolific strikers of their respective birth decades. Not only do they both have a unique and unorthodox style, but both are incredibly effective. Just by looking at the basic statistics including wins, losses, KOs and submissions, there is no obvious difference between the two. Both fighters finish more often than not and neither fighter has lost in a long time. In fact, it has been 89 months since Anderson Silva last lost a fight and Jon Jones hasn’t lost in 42 months (The one career loss Jones does have was on a questionable disqualification loss to Matt Hamill).

A deeper look at the in-fight statistics gathered from FightMetric does give us some more insight into where each fighter finds his success. Firstly, both fighters land a lot of strikes. In an average minute in the ring with either of these fighters, you will absorb a significant strike more than once every 20 seconds. This extremely high number is likely influenced significantly by the fact that each fighter has ended many of their UFC contests early in the first round and often with a barrage of significant strikes. Jones does tend to land more strikes than Silva, but there is no reason to overinterpret that number. Both fighters fight top competition on a consistent basis and a slight difference in their SLPM is probably not overly significant. It is also worth noting that while Silva lands slightly less strikes, he is more accurate when he chooses to strike. Silva’s striking accuracy is 67%, while Jones is 53% accurate with his strikes.

If we look at statistics related to grappling/wrestling, there are some interesting things we can observe. Firstly, according to FightMetric, former NCAA division 1 wrestler Jon Jones has successfully defended every single takedown attempt he has ever faced inside the octagon. Silva as well, has had a lot of success in his UFC career defending takedowns, with 70% of total takedowns defended. We have to consider the first Silva vs Sonnen fight in that number as well, Sonnen was able to take Silva down with ease and that fight alone probably accounts for the majority of the times Silva has been taken down in his UFC career. In terms of takedown success, Silva actually has the edge over Jones at 78% compared to Jones 62%. This statistic is interesting given that Jones has college wrestling credentials, but could also be a by-product of Silva’s going for takedowns being unexpected by his opponents. This is evidenced by the fact that Jones lands an average of 2.78 takedowns per fight compared to Silva’s 0.72.

The Verdict

We feel a potential match-up between Jones and Silva is an incredibly exciting possibility. We do not see the fight going to the ground quickly, however, the possibility exists that Jones could take a page out of the book of Chael Sonnen and aggressively try to takedown “The Spider.” If Jones does attempt a takedown, we feel the crafty takedown defense of Silva will allow him to keep the fight standing. If he does get taken down, we expect he will be able to use his black belt jiu jitsu skills and ridiculous athleticism to be able to get back to his feet. Our prediction is that Silva will be able to earn a TKO victory in round 2 after a relatively slow feeling out process in the first round. Interestingly, our old model has Jon Jones as a significant favourite, but so far since the new model debuted, the old model has only been accurate about 50% of the time (the same accuracy as guessing randomly). The new model, on the other hand, has Anderson Silva as a slight favourite in this match-up. Therefore, assuming the odds are relatively even, we would bet on Silva in this match-up. If Silva is heavily favoured, however, we would probably not place a bet on the match-up.

Whether you agree with our analysis or not, let us know in the comments. We’re sure all MMA fans can agree that this fight would be something extremely exciting to look forward to. There is evidence that we may even see the two lock up before the end of 2013.

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