Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva will take on social media star Jake Paul this Saturday (October 29, 2022) on FITE.tv/Showtime pay-per-view (PPV) ) from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Expectations weren’t high when Silva stepped into the boxing ring. Of course, Silva is a striking legend inside the Octagon, and unlike most, he’s been boxed before. Even so, Silva was in his 40s and entering a different sport after an unceremonious end to his UFC career – it was hard to be overconfident. Next, Silva knocked out Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in an upset that shocked fans and bettors alike. He spanked Tito Ortiz, which didn’t mean much, but it was fun. Now he’s challenging a YouTube kid, and it really feels like he’s MMA’s chosen rep this time around. 47 or not, Silva is a different animal to Tyron Woodley.
Interest and belief in “The Spider” is renewed. Let’s take a closer look at his boxing skills:
Inside the cage, Silva was known to decimate opponents with knees, kicks and elbows as well as punches. With so many of their best weapons removed from the playing field, it was unclear how the Southpaw would fare in the ring. Based on his pair of fights from 2021 — an admittedly small sample — Silva has adapted quite well.
Silva has carved out a place in MMA history as its greatest counter-attacker. He would dazzle his opponent with a ranged attack, convince them to step forward, then drop the injury to his back foot in a magnificent display of timing and distance. It’s not that simple in the ring. Most boxers who aren’t Tito Ortiz don’t want to rush into counter punches. Silva fails to win the kicking battle and forces his opponent to play into his hand.
Allow “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” to demonstrate below why that’s a bad idea.
Tito’s clip actually serves as a great transition and example of a change: pocket fights. Now Silva has never been uncomfortable in boxing distance. He was always ready to drop his hands or fully trust his head movement to keep himself safe and open counter opportunities. However, it now stays in that range longer and fires more shots.
Chavez Jr. tried to intimidate Silva a bit. He came out pulling hard, running his right hand to the head and body. He expected to back Silva, but ‘The Spider’ was ready to hold on. Often Silva would start to slide and roll before coming out the right side with a heavy right hook, much like the one that stopped Ortiz.
It wasn’t just single shots though. Off his head movement, Silva was ready to keep his feet planted and fire in combination. He would follow that right hook with a second to the body, or he would mix right uppercuts into the combination. As the fight progressed, Silva grew more confident and actually started supporting Chavez Jr. on the ropes. He forced exchanges from close range, picking his shots very comfortably in the brief moments when their gloves parted.
Some classic Silva punches and other antics were on display in this fight as well. Silva, for example, got into the corner in the fourth round. Chavez Jr. took the bait like many before him, saw his shots blocked, then finished the round racing. Silva may not be at his peak, but his reflexes are still sharp enough to parry shots and fight back successfully.
Overall, Silva’s first hand is more effective than ever. He did quite a headache with his left cross, but often the strike just helped him get in close and set up the right hook. Silva also made good use of the corkscrew uppercut, catching Chavez Jr. off guard several times after previously establishing the right jab.
Silva definitely still has some MMA funky in his boxing game. For example, there were a few occasions when Silva lifted his front leg and stomped forward into a right hook or jab. This is quite common when low kicks are allowed, but a bit strange in a fight! Even stranger, Silva leaned over and touched his shoe in a punch – a tactic neither Chavez Jr. nor the referee seemed to appreciate.
Similar to his MMA career, Silva has given a lot of different defensive looks. Early on, he started with his hands clasped to his chin and stuck to fairly simple combinations. As the fight progressed and Silva understood his enemy’s timing, he began to adjust his hand position. He was rolling more on the shoulder or leaning on his Wing Chun style parry. At various times, Silva was quite willing to drop his hands and he never quite paid the price for his confidence.
“The Spider” remains a tough man to hit.
Silva remains as crafty as possible, comfortable and experienced. It also seems that the Brazilian can still crack depending on the reactions of his opponents in the ring! It’s a major test for Paul, but regardless of that result, Silva can still find plenty of intriguing matches in the ring if he continues to perform well.
Andrew Richardson, brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is a professional fighter who trains at the Alpha Male team in Sacramento, California. Along with learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for many of the sport’s most elite fighters.