August 8th, Forrest Griffin and Anderson Silva will meet in the octagon of UFC 101. Silva has never lost a fight in the UFC 9 wins, o losses. And not against cake either; 2 wins against Rich Franklin–the best fighter in the UFC at the time of the first fight–1 against Dan Henderson (a great fighter who looked completely overmatched) and his last lackluster fight against someone who was nevertheless a danger–Thales Leites. Silva is ranked along with Fedor as the best fighter, pound for pound, in the world.
Griffin is coming off a loss to Rashad Evans. It was a fight in which Griffin controlled the tempo for the first two rounds, but then Evans landed a series of bomb strikes from Griffin’s guard, ending the fight with a TKO.
So can Griffin, the classic blue collar fighter, defeat the polished and deadly Silva?
Of course anyone can win on a given day, but I think that Griffin has a better chance than most. Number one is his height. At 6’3″, he has a built in defense against many of Silva’s pounding knee strikes. The height advantage also gives him some protection against the clinch–Silva’s deadly nesting ground. His reach will also mitigate the long range strikes and distance manipulation at which Silva excels.
Than there’s Griffin’s conditioning. Known around the fight game as one of its best conditioned athletes, Griffin should be able at least defend himself in the late rounds when fighters become very vulnerable to high kicks, as their arms sag from fatigue. Griffin is well-rounded, with an adequate submission quiver. His weakness is a lack of knockout ability. His fights too often go the distance and turn into all out wars. He tends to lose strength in the late rounds despite his conditioning, looking like a man made of rubber, all arms and legs. This could hurt him when Silva’s sniper strikes start raining in. And they will. But Griffin must weather the storm long enough to take Silva to the ground and pound away.