Silva was regarded by many as one of the hottest prospects in the UFC. He was absolutely dominant in Brazil's local MMA circuit, compiling a 12-1 (1) record. He had a successful UFC debut, knocking out Luis Ramos in the first round and he later helped usher Charlie Brenneman out of the UFC.
Jon Fitch, a longtime top-tier welterweight, was supposed to be the coming out party for Silva. Fitch, after all, is aging, unhappy and close to retirement. Right?
Nope. Jon Fitch decided, at long last, it was time for him to flip the angry switch. Fitch had an absolutely absurd 13-2-1 record in the UFC that was predominantly made up of slow-paced grappling matches where he would take an opponent down and employ the much-maligned “lay and pray” strategy.
Fans hate this, and it is widely regarded as a huge factor in why Fitch, in spite of racking up win after win, has stayed far away from the welterweight title picture. At long last, Fitch took this criticism to heart and wrecked Erick Silva. Badly.
Fitch, rather than contentedly staying positioned atop his opponent, forcefully took Silva around the cage and employed angry, frantic ground-and-pound. He dominated Silva from on top and skillfully avoided several strong submission attempts. After squirming out of a guillotine choke in the second round, Fitch landed punch after punch from top position. It was at this exact point that Erick Silva quit the fight.
Even though Erick Silva only has four UFC fights to this point, he is no kid. He is 28 years old and has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. He is an established fighter with a refined style that just got thoroughly beaten at his own game. Wherever people thought Erick Silva was in his career, and no matter how good people thought he was, he is very clearly not as good as Jon Fitch.
So who can he fight next?
Well, that is difficult to say. What we just saw certainly suggests that he is nowhere near competing with top welterweights, so it ultimately depends on what the UFC thinks of his long-term value.
If the UFC wants to build the Erick Silva brand, there are loads of anonymous, interchangeable welterweights fighting on any given preliminary card to choose from. TJ Waldburger, Amir Sadollah and Kenny Robertson are all very beatable. On the flip side, he could very easily find himself being fed to an established fighter needing to get back on the winning track, in particular Yoshihiro Akiyama or Rick Story.
Either way, the amount of damage done to Erick Silva's rep here in this fight is enormous. This is a profound setback that may keep him off any given main card for the next year or two. Whether or not he will be able to climb out of the hole Jon Fitch just threw him into, it will be an interesting thing to watch.