UFC Fight Night 84: Silva vs Bisping is scheduled to take place on February 27th, and the card’s broadcast does well to demonstrate that the UFC isn’t taking its Fight Pass subscribers for granted. All of the event’s action will air exclusively on the UFC’s digital subscription platform, Fight Pass, which ranges in price from $8 to $10 per month in cost (depending upon how many months are purchased at once). Accordingly, this card is unusually jam-packed with awesome talent and potentially thrilling fights. Let’s take a look!
Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping
In the show’s main event, longtime UFC title contender Michael Bisping will attempt to thrill his hometown crowd against former-champion Anderson Silva. The environment will undeniably be electric, as Bisping is beloved in his home country, and a win here will more than likely grant him his long-sought crack at the middleweight crown. There are a number of unique factors to consider relating to this fight, both stylistic and otherwise. First is the absolutely tumultuous series of events that the forty-year-old Silva has endured as of late (or relatively late). The former middleweight champ was viciously knocked out by Chris Weidman in July of 2013, before stepping into the cage for a rematch just before the year’s end, only to suffer a grossly devastating broken leg—an injury that, at the time, led many to believe that would be the last time “The Spider” competed inside the Octagon. But even at his age and with his experience, Silva battled through the injury, ultimately clashing with Nick Diaz at UFC 183 in January of 2015—after a twenty-five month plus layoff. He ended up winning the fight via unanimous decision, and although he was competing against a quality opponent after a long layoff, many thought that something looked “off” with his performance. Silva would then fail a post-fight drug test for a number of performance-enhancing drugs, be suspended for a year, and be booked in this contest. Now, at over forty-years old and having not competed in over a year, Anderson Silva is back. This may have been a lot to consume, but these points will directly affect the fight, undoubtedly. Bisping, inversely, has been competing regularly, and holds two consecutive wins over quality opponents. From a stylistic perspective, Bisping must utilize his cardio and technical boxing advantages to try and wear down the potentially drained Silva. All of the aforementioned factors, as well as a twenty-plus year history in the sport, will be evident here in terms of Silva’s performance. Bisping’s wrestling is underrated as well, so keeping the distance and firing his jab regularly may allow for an opportunity to take the fight to the ground. All of these points are designed to disrupt the timing of Silva—the key to “The Count” achieving success. Anderson Silva needs to finish this fight early—plain and simple. Bisping has excellent striking skills, but has never really demonstrated one-punch finishing power (although, his hands cannot be disrespected; he certainly has what it takes to put other fighters out). The longer the fight goes with the always in-shape Bisping, the lower Silva’s chances of success; with the drug test failures, the leg injury, the age, the career wear, and the long layoff considered, there truly is no telling how Silva’s body will react to the fight. Landing hard and early is Silva’s best shot at getting his hand raised. This contest is probably going to be much closer than the odds and most are indicating. Sure, Silva’s legendary title reign was impressive, and resonates in the mind of most every fan of the sport, but the Spider is no longer in his 30s, and hasn’t held the belt in over three years. He still has a superhuman aura about him, but to be clear, this is a much different Silva than that of the past. All in all, this fight is up for grabs for either athlete, and is most definitely worth watching. Official Prediction: Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision
Gegard Mousasi vs Thales Leites
The co-main event of the night pits two of the best middleweights against one another, in Gegard Mousasi and Thales Leites. Leites is a decorated submission specialist who has fought the truly elite of the sport in his thirteen-year career. The BJJ-expert is coming off of a hard-fought split-decision loss to Bisping, having won his five-prior UFC fights. Although his specialty is once again found on the mat, he has demonstrated some impressive power in his hands and technique in his striking in this latest promotional run. A win here will do well to propel him towards the upper-echelon of the division. But Gegard Mousasi, a developed all-around fighter and striking specialist, is standing in his way. Known for his calm demeanor and devastating skills, Mousasi has had his fair share of ups and downs inside the Octagon. In his last outing, despite winning his two prior fights, Mousasi was finished via the late-replacement Uriah Hall. Mousasi dominated the first round of the contest before being tagged with an impressive flying strike early in the second, which was then followed up with a series of punches. For as crafty, unexpected, and skilled as this victory was, the odds of it happening again are incredibly slim; the loss wasn’t indicative of a lack of training or a lower skill level in Mousasi, but rather a once-in-a-million shot for Uriah Hall. Although Leites is better on the feet than ever before, there’s a good chance that he’ll want this fight on the ground; Mousasi’s decorated striking background has allowed him to easily defeat impressive standup fighters in the past. Mousasi, although well-versed on the ground, will probably look to play to his strengths and keep the fight on the feet. Leites isn’t completely overmatched, but based upon what we’ve seen from Mousasi in the past, he should be able to use his striking and defensive wrestling to outpoint the Brazilian to a clear-cut unanimous decision; it’s easier for him to implement his gameplan than it is for Leites to implement his own. Official Prediction: Gegard Mousasi via Unanimous Decision
Rustam Khabilov vs Norman Parke
Rustam Khabilov vs Norman Parke is a pivotal lightweight contest between two talented fighters looking to achieve some career consistency. Khabilov is a skilled Dagestani fighter training out of Jackson-Wink’s MMA. Although he’s had some difficulty as of late—most recently coming up short in a very close split-decision to Adriano Martins, and before that, being bested by the former champion Benson Henderson—he is still a well-rounded and stylistically impressive athlete who is proficient anywhere the fight goes. Despite this, Khabilov will more than likely attempt to integrate his strong grappling against Parke, an area where the talented striker and TUF winner has had some difficulty. Not a lot of difficulty, of course, but Parke’s ground game is certainly much easier to exploit than his considerable striking. Parke defeated Reza Madadi most recently, and before that, came up short in two close, split-decisions to powerful Brazilians Gleison Tibau and Francisco Trinaldo. A win here is especially important for Parke, given the style of his recent losses. As was indicated, Parke wants this fight on the feet to utilize his striking, while Khabilov will likely look for the takedown to play to his own strengths. Both men are talented and have a place in the future of the division and/or the sport, and it’s difficult to say who will come out ahead here. But given Khabilov’s grappling edge and functional striking (which can certainly compete with Parke’s, at least), he should be able to win. Official Prediction: Rustam Khabilov via Submission (Round 3)
Other Fights to Watch
As was mentioned, there are a ton of other awesome fights on this card. Some are set to be solid contests, while others are can’t-miss battles. Let’s take a quick look at two fights, besides the main event, co-main event, and featured fight, which should be watched.
Makwan Amirkhani vs Mike Wilkinson
There appears to be a considerable amount of bad blood brewing between Amirkhani and Wilkinson, which makes the stylistically intriguing contest even more appealing. Wilkinson is a talented finisher with just one loss to his name, who will be benefited by the support of his hometown crowd. Amirkhani, the man called “Mr. Finland”, is entertaining both inside and outside of the cage, and has won both of his UFC fights in under two total minutes! Brad Pickett vs Francisco Rivera This outstanding matchup requires no explanation. Simply watch Pickett versus just about anyone and it’s hard to not be thrilled (his last contest with Thomas Almeida was one of the best of the year). The same can be said for Rivera, whose last war against John Lineker was one to remember. These two battle-ready warriors are a great throwback to the old days of the sport, when many fighters went for the finish in exciting fashion to entertain the fans and end contests in devastating fashion. All of these fights, as well as the entire card, are set to be awesome. All of the action once again goes down live on the UFC’s Fight Pass platform on Saturday, February 27th, 2016. Enjoy the fights!