British will back Bisping but don't count out Silva

February 23, 2016 3:04 AM
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Anderson Silva MMA FighterThis Saturday night the UFC makes its way across the pond as O2 Arena in London, England plays host to Fight Night 84.

It appears to be a pretty solid card that showcases a main event receiving a lot of attention. That’s because it features arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, Anderson Silva (33-6-0-1), who’s scheduled to make his return to the Octagon for the first time in more than a year.

His opponent for this middleweight scrap is Michael Bisping (28-7), who is one of the most accomplished British fighters within the UFC. That should give Bisping a “home cage” advantage but according to oddsmakers it’s the Brazilian who’s expected to have his hand raised.

The current betting line has Silva listed as high as a -300 favorite, with the take back on Bisping +250. This main event is scheduled for 5 rounds though, according to bookmakers who have installed the over/under for rounds at 2.5, it’s not expected to go the full 25 minutes.

For Silva, he’ll look to prove he’s still one of the best at 185 pounds even at 40 years of age. In his last fight against Nick Diaz back in January 2015, though Silva was awarded a unanimous decision it was overturned after he tested positive for a banned substance.

Prior to that, few expected “The Spider” would ever be back in the cage after suffering what appeared to be a career ending leg break in his rematch against Chris Weidman.

For Bisping, after alternating wins and losses dating back to 2011, he’ll enter the Octagon on a two fight win streak. Though he’s never been given a title shot, since winning Season 3 of The Ultimate Fighter almost 10 years ago, Bisping has faced many of the division’s biggest names. He’s never lacked confidence and his reputation for being one of the sport’s top trash talkers is well deserved.

Bisping’s wasted no time in attacking Silva via social media and interviews heading into Saturday’s showdown. Bottom line, Bisping does not hold much of an advantage anywhere.

Silva is the more experienced fighter, the more well-rounded fighter, and without a doubt has the more impressive resume. Statistically, Silva is a beast. He’s one of the most efficient strikers in MMA history, connecting on 64% of strikes while actively defending 63%.

Though known mostly for his superior Muay Thai skills, Silva is also an elite grappler and jiu jitsu practitioner. He’s been successful on 77% of take down attempts and has been able to defend against 69% of opponents.

Bisping is also a very high level striker in his own right, who throws a lot of volume even though his connect percentage isn’t all that impressive at 39%. Not known as a knockout artist, most of “The Count’s” victories have come by outworking his opponents.

Bisping is always in excellent shape and even at 36 years old he hasn’t slowed much at all.

Finally, though -300 may seem like a high price to pay for backing Silva at the betting window, I think it would be much greater if there weren’t some questions about whether he may be past his prime, and whether he’s even completely healthy.

In fact, had this fight taken place prior to Silva breaking his leg, I believe we’d be looking at a line almost double what’s on the board now.

Personally, until I see for certain that Silva is only a shell of his former self I am not willing to bet against him. Especially against an opponent whose only edge is the fact he’s four years younger and should have the crowd on his side.

So just like last week when I stated it’s either Donald Cerrone or pass, this week I’ll go ahead and state, it’s either Anderson Silva or pass.

PICK: SILVA

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @Greek_Gamblerand at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.