The second bout of Saturday night's UFC 142 pay-per-view broadcast provides the classic veteran-versus-prospect pairing, as welterweight Erick Silva takes on Carlo Prater. Silva is new to the big stage, having made his UFC debut at the promotion's prior jaunt to South America, while his opponent Prater is a seasoned fighter with 40 professional fights, spread out in organizations such as Strikeforce, MFC and the WEC.
Silva announced his arrival on the UFC scene with a quick knockout against Luis Ramos and the performance was impressive enough to earn Silva main card status for just his second UFC fight. A product of the Nogueria brothers, "Indio" appears to be a solid injection to the already top-heavy welterweight division.
Silva's debut saw him take only 40 seconds to score what appeared to be a lock for Knockout of the Night. Then Big Nog came along and starched Brendan Schaub, snatching the $100,000 out from under his student's nose. Silva entered the UFC riding a nine-bout unbeaten streak, capped off with a two-fight, one-night tournament victory to claim the Jungle Fight Welterweight Title.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Despite marking his arrival on the big stage with a thudding knock out, Silva made his name in smaller promotions by using his black belt level talents in both judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu, which should come as no surprise for a Nogueira prodigy. Silva appears to be well-prepared to handle himself wherever the fight goes in this bout, leaving the only real question mark on his savvy inside the cage. Having had his debut behind him will work to Silva's advantage, but it's been more than two years since Silva has been to decision and he has yet to have to show he can handle the deep waters of a fight at the highest level.
On paper Silva appears to be the solid favorite in this bout wherever it goes. Prater is tough to put away, but by fighting smart this is a fight that Silva will have every chance to win by a unanimous decision, taking all three rounds with relative comfort. For fantasy betting the lines on this fight are more-or-less in line with those of the experts, but I will be staying away from Silva. At -440 the investment has to be massive for any kind of meaningful payout, and I'm always hesitant to back a huge favorite when they've got less than a minute of big-stage experience and are facing a veteran.
Carlo Prater analysis after the jump.
Prater makes his debut with the UFC as a late replacement for the injured Siyar Bahadurzada and hopes to make his opportunity count by earning an impressive victory. There are few ways in the UFC to better curry favor with Dana White than jumping at the chance to move up a card or take a fight late, then capitalizing on the opportunity by beating your highly favored opponent.
Prater's last outing with Zuffa saw him fall to 0-2 within the WEC, as he was beaten by Brock Larson by TKO. The loss started a string of five defeats in seven fights, however Prater has bounced back strong from the difficult stretch. After scoring a 38-second anaconda choke victory on a Strikeforce Challengers card in February, Prater has run his winning streak up to four fights, all coming by way of submission before the third round, in order to earn his call up to the UFC.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As with Silva, Prater is best know for his submission skills inside the ring, with only two of 29 victories by way of TKO. With a BJJ black belt of his own, Prater is likely to fancy his chances best with Silva when turning the fight into a grinding affair on the ground where he can relay on his wealth of experience to create openings to improve his positions or to lock on a potential fight-ending submission. Although Prater has not won many fights by TKO, he has proven to be difficult to put away on the feet as well, with Larson the only man to stop Prater with strikes.
The problem with handicapping a fight involving a guy like Silva is the relative lack of evidence of his skills against non-local competition. If Silva is everything he's advertised as, it will be a long night for Prater. If Silva gets added to the list of small pond monsters who turn into big pond guppies, then Prater can take the fight, most likely by grinding down his Brazilian opponent and slapping on a late submission. As a +400 underdog, Prater is a big risk to include in your one parlay for the event, since hitting on multiple parlays over the course of a season is the key to a winning final bankroll, but offers solid return on investment for those prone to remaining skeptical of highly billed fighters who are light on UFC experience.