UFC 125 will feature a light-heavyweight bout between two of the division's accomplished fighters, Brandon Vera and Thiago Silva; and a win for either fighter will keep them relevant among the 205 lb. division.
Both fighters are returning to the Octagon after a lengthy layoff.
Silva will be returning following a back injury that has kept him out of action since August, while Vera tasted defeat to Jon Jones in March, receiving three facial fractures in the process. In order to insert himself back in the top tier of the division, Silva needs to do it in a dominating fashion.
When you look at this bout on paper, Silva might be favoured, but wherever the fight goes, the Brazilian will be at a disadvantage because of Vera's height and reach. Should the fight be contested on the feet, Vera will look to establish distance with his versatile striking, especially utilizing his leg kicks. If the fight is contested on the ground, then Vera will use his 6'4" frame to control his opponent, implementing a rubber guard and looking to submit Silva.
The key to victory for Thiago Silva is to eliminate the distance between him and Vera.
Silva needs to press the action immediately and get inside of Vera's range, his aggressive fighting style and head movement should contribute to this. Once he is inside his opponent's range, he'll have the opportunity to land effective shots or establish a clinch. However, Silva needs to remain composed and not become too aggressive while successfully minimizing the distance; he has to be aware of Vera's Muay Thai clinch.
From there, Silva should wear down his opponent with knees and punches to the body and take him down to use his brutal ground and pound.
If the fight takes place on the ground, again, Silva will need to cut off the distance. Vera is a threat off of his back, so Silva needs to transition to a dominant position that prevents Vera from having some distance that will allow him to attempt a submission.
If Silva can transition to a more dominant position in Vera's guard, then the Brazilian will ground and pound his way to victory.