185 lbs: Chris Leben vs. Jay Silva
Odds: ( Leben / Silva)
The opening bout of the evening pits journeyman Chris “The Crippler” Leben against Brazilian Jay Silva, a relative newcomer to the UFC. Silva was unsuccessful in his UFC debut, coming up short against C.B. Dolloway, while Leben has been plugging away at Middleweight since The Ultimate Fighter with very mixed results. Silva needs to win to avoid being shuffled back down to smaller shows, while a poor performance for Leben against an unheralded opponent could spell the end of his UFC tenure as well, especially considering his spotty history of DUI arrests and positive steroid tests.
Silva, a powerful striker who trains with top fighters such as Cheick Kongo and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, had some impressive knockout wins against low-level opponents on tiny regional shows, but failed to translate his small-show success into a UFC win against C.B. Dolloway. It is entirely possible that he was thrown into the deep end a bit too early due to his more-successful training partners. Leben is a perfect opponent to determine where Silva stands, because he is not very technical and won’t test Sila’s technique as much as Dolloway did. Still, Leben is arguably the most accomplished fighter Silva has ever faced, and certainly the most experienced,
Leben, the undisputed bad boy of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, has had a UFC career filled with ups and downs. A tough, brawling standup fighter with a lot of power and cardio on top of a very good chin, Leben has carved a niche for himself by compensating for his lack of technique with a surplus of toughness. He will enter the fight with a massive advantage in experience, both in terms of number of fights and quality of opposition.
Put simply, Leben is just too much for Silva. He has a much more proven track record, against better opponents, and his huge experience advantage is going to make it difficult for Silva to handle his relentless pace. Expect Leben to batter Silva for most of the fight before finally dropping him and getting the TKO.
Fight Prediction: “The Crippler” Chris Leben via second round T/KO.