After an entertaining few weeks on the road, the UFC returns to the Apex for UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs Blaydes. The co-main event features two middleweights with eyes on the top 15 rankings in veteran Brad Tavares and hard-hitting Brazilian Bruno Silva.
The experience of the Hawaiian Tavares will be tested against one of the most powerful hitters in the division, with Silva earning 19 of his 22 wins by knockout. It makes for an intriguing matchup to play set-up for the potential fireworks of the heavyweights in the main event.
So let's preview a matchup that has the potential to steal the show with a fight of the night or highlight KO as a real possibility and offer our Tavares vs Silva prediction.
Brad Tavares Preview: Time for Tavares to Crack the Top 15 Once Again
Since his arrival in the UFC as part of the Ultimate Fighter 11 back in 2010, Tavares has become a popular face on UFC cards. Saturday will be Brad’s 21st octagon walk, and although he has had four fewer fights than Silva, he has fought 12 more professional rounds than ‘Blindado’.
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This, added with the significantly superior UFC experience, could prove crucial on Saturday night. Tavares has lost four of his last six fights, but the names of those who have defeated him bring no shame on the Hawaiian. His most recent loss came to Dricus Du Plessis back in July at UFC 276. Fast forward eight months and the South African may now seemingly next in line for a shot at the middleweight belt. Before that, Edmen Shahbazyan, current champion Israel Adesanya and former champ Robert Whittaker are the only men to defeat Tavares since 2015.
Although the record of 19-7 looks unspectacular, once you look at the name of those who have defeated him, it shows Tavares as a UFC fighter who has truly fought the best of the best. Saturday night provides Brad a chance to notch a much needed victory over one of the hardest hitting fighters in the division and catapult himself into the top 15 rankings.
Bruno Silva Preview: Bombs in His Hands but Needs to Bounce Back
Silva was on a tear before debuting in the UFC in 2021. Silva was undefeated in seven fights between 2017 and 2021 before he fell into the path of a fellow Brazilian Alex Pereira in 2022. Silva managed to take that fight against the recently dethroned Middleweight champion, but fell to defeat at the hands of Gerald Meerschaert via third round submission in August last year.
As a result, Silva is yet to have his statement UFC win, and a third loss in a row will be a serious setback to the 33 year old attempting to crack the top 15 rankings for the first time. Despite the slide, Silva is a dangerous prospect for any opponent. ‘Blindado' announced his arrival in the UFC with three straight knockouts, two of which were in the first round.
Silva took some time off following his loss to Meerschaert, and should be fit and ready to fire at the veteran Tavares.
Tavares vs Silva Prediction: Who’s Gonna Win at UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs Blaydes
Tavares comes into this fight the slight favourite, but ultimately this is a difficult fight to call.
The first thing to note is the significant power advantage Silva possesses, boasting a 86% career knockout percentage compared to Tavares’ 26%. However, this stat should be taken with a pinch of salt considering how many of Tavares’ fights have been in the UFC, therefore he has likely fought significantly better opponents than the Brazilian Silva.
Of Brad’s 19 wins, five of those have come via knockout and two via submission. With Silva holding the power advantage, Tavares will fancy his chances on the ground. ‘Blindado' has never won via submission, and the Hawaiian should have the advantage if the fight goes to the mat.
It’s worth noting the activity of both fighters. Tavares has only had four fights in the best part of the last six years, averaging a fight every year and five months. Even with his break following the loss to Meerschaert, Silva has been the much more active of the two fighters, with 5 fights in the last 22 months. If ring rust is an issue for Tavares, Silva could take advantage and land an early bomb to cause the upset.
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Brad Tavares vs Bruno Silva Predication: Brazilian Has the Power to Cause an Upset in Co-main Event
As mentioned, we see this as a coin flip of a fight. The bookmakers see a close fight ahead of us:
The savvy veteran in Tavares has, on paper, the inferior skill set to Bruno due to his mammoth power. Silva’s technique is not exactly refined, but he is significantly more explosive than Tavares.
The Hawaiian has the significant experience advantage and must play defense, maintaining constant movement to make the power shot from Silva harder to land. He must display the same defense that he did in his loss to Du Plessis that he brought to the judge’s scorecards.
However, our Tavares vs Silva prediction is an upset victory for ‘Blindado’, and bettors can double their odds by backing the Brazilian to finish the fight within the distance. If Tavares has even the slightest bit of ring rust, Silva can and must capitalise, and a quick start from Silva can spell serious trouble for Brad.