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Posted on August 26, 2011 by Jack Thurman

UFC 134 Betting Preview: Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami

Anderson Silva is the UFC’s longest running champion and by the acclamation of many the ‘pound for pound’ best fighter in the world. It’s important to note that not everyone is convinced. Silva is insanely skilled to be sure but he’s also shown a tendency for petulance, arrogance and indifference if he thinks an opponent is ‘beneath him’. The critics would also suggest that he’s fought a less than inspiring list of challengers (with few exceptions, like Dan Henderson) who may or may not have been selected to play into Silva’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses. And, despite this underwhelming list of challengers he’s put together few really impressive performances. There was the stunning KO of Forrest Griffin, but also a few fights where he spent more time preening and pouting than actually fighting.

It’s also worth noting that Silva is coming off an easy victory over Vitor Belfort, a one diminsonal fighter who was ‘made to order’ for Silva to beat. Before that, he faced the toughest challenge of his title reign as he was dominated by Chael Sonnen for four and a half rounds before pulling a ‘rabbit out of the hat’ and stealing the victory via submission. His critics call this a ‘lucky win’, his supporters point to his toughness in enduring a beating for most of the fight. The important component of this, however, is that Sonnen created a blueprint for someone with the right skill set and strategy to defeat Silva. Basically, a good wrestler will just need to do what Sonnen did—with the exception of getting submitted—and he can at the very least provide a solid challenge for ‘The Spider’.

Another thing to remember about Silva—he’s 36 years old. To his credit (or the credit of the UFC’s matchmaker Joe Silva) he’s taken very little punishment in his UFC tenure so as fight fans frequently point out he may be a ‘young 36′ in terms of ‘ring years’. Age, however, has managed to catch and defeat a laundry list of the greatest fighters in history. Silva’s striking ability is more based on his innate speed and athleticism and less on technical acumen. In many ways, he’s similar to boxer Roy Jones, Jr.–also blessed with freaky athleticism but not a technically sound fighter. Jones was one of the most amazing fighters of the past generation until age caught up with him—and it caught up with him quickly at age 35 against Antonio Tarver. Worth noting that Jones was a year younger than Silva is heading into this fight and had also enjoyed a career where he’d taken little punishment as he faced overmatched opponents.

If it sounds like we’re talking too much about Silva and not enough about his opponent, there’s a reason for that. No disrespect to Yushin Okami, who is a first rate MMA fighter with solid wrestling skills—and has been training with the aforementioned Chael Sonnen. He’ll certainly be up to speed on the ‘blueprint’ to beat Silva and at that point its just a matter of execution. Whether or not he’s capable of executing properly, of course, remains to be seen.

Oddly enough, however, Okami isn’t really central to our handicap of this fight. Silva’s real ‘opponent’ going forward will be his increasing age combined with excessively high expectations. At some point age will catch up with Silva like it does every fighter. From a UFC betting standpoint, it’ll be a good strategy going forward to bet against Silva any time you’re getting a decent prize—like you are here. At +400, theoretical break even is 20%–that’s a hefty overlay in MMA and particular given the dynamics of this matchup. Silva could very well win this fight—and even in impressive fashion—but at some point age and the massive expectations of the wagering public will collide and we could collect a big payback going against him. It could happen as soon as this weekend.

Bet Yushin Okami +400 over Anderson Silva

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