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Fair or Foul, Dong Hyun Kim’s Tactics in Erick Silva Fight Proved to be Wily

A turning point in the careers of Dong Hyun Kim & Erick Silva.

On a night where Rousimar Palhares once again exposed himself as a complete jackass by not releasing a submission hold after getting a win and Jake Shields grinded out a split decision win over Demian Maia, it was Dong Hyun Kim who stole the show at UFC’s latest Brazilian event (at Jose Correa Arena). How he earned his win against Erick Silva is up for some debate.

Erick Silva had been one of the rising Brazilian stars for the UFC in the Welterweight division. He looked unstoppable until suffering a disqualification loss against Carlo Prater. Then came the decision loss to Jon Fitch in which Fitch basically showed the world he still was a top-class fighter and stopped the phenom’s momentum dead in its track. My how things have changed for Fitch after fighting Josh Burkman. Silva rebounded with an easy win over Jason High and was booked in a tough fight against the veteran Kim. Kim hadn’t finished a fighter in years, as his litany of wins are of the decision variety. Call it the UFC effect, if you will.

So, on Wednesday night, either Erick Silva was going to blitz Kim, submit him, or Kim was going to grind out a decision victory. Your three logical choices for the outcome of the fight.

When the two men fought on Wednesday, Silva started working over Kim. He gassed him out. Kim was missing a lot of his punches. At the start of round two, it looked like Silva was softening him up for a KO finish. Then came the turning point in the fight that will continue to draw scrutiny in the foreseeable future. Silva went after Kim against the cage and looked like he was going to suplex him. Just as Silva was about to pounce, Kim grabbed the cage with his hand to stop the suplex. The referee was Mario Yamasaki. He yelled at Kim to stop grabbing the cage. However, this wasn’t a typical cage grab by a fighter. This was the kind of grab that actually stopped a suplex from happening.

Yamasaki could have stopped the fight. He would have been justified in stopping it and issuing a warning. He would have been justified in taking a point away from Kim because the cage grab potentially impacted the outcome of the fight. Instead, just a verbal warning. Promptly after the cage grab by Kim, you just knew a finish to the fight was coming. Both Silva and Kim swung for the fences with left punches. Silva missed and kept his head in place. Kim moved his head to avoid getting tagged and his left punch crunched Silva for the shocking knockout.

The loss is a blow to Erick Silva’s career and muddies the waters as to where he stands in the Welterweight division. As for Dong Hyun Kim, the win and the finish catapults him into some very interesting territory. He has wins over Paulo Thiago & Siyar Bahadurzada. A rematch with Demian Maia is entirely possible. Perhaps a rematch against Carlos Condit. Kim is 18-2 and the rematch with Maia is likely a more preferable option than a fight with Condit. Either way, I suspect he will take his next fight to the score cards. Erick Silva probably assumed the same thing about his fight and was proven wrong, however.

Don’t look now, but Kim is a couple of big wins away from perhaps getting a Welterweight title shot. He might want to improve his gas tank before facing the heavy hitters in the division. At least Kim has his make-or-break opportunity to get into the title picture sooner rather than later. Was the cage grab illegal? Yeah, it was. Kim capitalized on his good fortune, however, and shocked the arena with the most definitive finish of his UFC career.