Was Helio right about Silva's BB?

Was Helio right about Silva not deserving a blackbelt in jiu-jitsu? Helio's jiu-jitsu has always been about defeating the bigger man based on technique and not strength. The Chute-boxe style has always been about aggressive constant striking from all positions even on the ground with a de-emphasis on submission. This is fine when matched against someone your size or smaller but against someone bigger you run into problems with this kind of game. How good would Silva be on the ground without his physical attributes?

Against Hunt, a kickboxer relatively untrained on the ground, Silva was hyperspastic and aggressive and lost many basic positions. He had an americana from sidebody but for no apparent reason chose to go to mount and got rolled. He had a triangle but instead of locking his legs first and breaking down Hunt's posture to finish, he kept his legs open while trying to get the angle and Hunt easily slipped past his guard. He had mount 4 times and lost it by either getting reversed or standing up to stomp instead of submitting his opponent.

While these may seem like minor mistakes to some, on the whole, they are not what some would view a blackbelt to make. Of course Silva is very good on the ground but is he a blackbelt? A blackbelt used to mean something extremely special, it was a rank that not everyone could or would get simply by putting a lot of time in. So I ask you, was Helio right? How good would Silva be if he had the physical attributes of Royce Gracie or the physical attributes of the average man for that matter?


I think he is clearly a black belt. Mario Sperry, who was a GREAT black belt lost several positions to Zinoviev when they fought in Extreme Fighting years ago. Zinoviev knew very little on the ground as well, but was explosive and athletic.

I personally thought Silva showed great technique and strategy. He initially pursued the submission, but realized Hunt was strong and big enough to power out of just about everything. Combine Hunt's strength with the fact that he had rocked Silva on the feet several times, and one can see why it was smart for Silva to play as conservatively on the ground as he did.

I was impressed with his ability to control Hunt and nearly catch him in the armlock after just catching a couple of shots that would have ko'ed anyone else.

I cant see many other BJJers doing much more on the ground than Silva did.

I definitely see your point, but what lends a little credence to Helio's argument is that Silva has had a ton of fights and I can't remember him ever (I could be wrong) getting a submission. Is this common for a bjj blackbelt with that many fights? Yes Sperry lost to Zinoview but he controlled him positionally the entire fight and just lost a few positions. That was just 1 opponent. Sperry is famous for many other submissions over huge and powerful opponents including Igor V. To me jiu-jitsu is finishing an opponent by submission. Shouldn't an expert in jiu-jitsu (a bjj blackbelt like Silva) be finishing at least some of their opponents by submission?

For the record, when I first heard Helio's criticism I thought he was being a little harsh on Silva, but after thinking about it and seeing this fight I'm not so sure.

It was a tough fight. Would you say the same for JJM, Charuto and Iha not submitting Trigg while Hughes did?

GeeRoxx: I am not one of the haters that will give someone a hard time since they lost one fight. I think Silva obviously did great as far as his strategy (strike, strike, strike) goes. My question is whether his is a bjj blackbelt for making the number of mistakes he did and never submitting any of his opponents. It just seems odd for a bjj blackbelt to get the ground and want to stand up and stomp their opponent who is unskilled on the ground.


I think Silva is a kickboxer first and foremost and a bjj black belt second. It is more efficient for him to KO his opponents rather than submit them, although he has done that as well (took that Dutch fighters back and choked him out IIRC.

You use what works best for you. If you are able to KO people and no one can stop it, you dont change your game plan. When someone like Hunt poses more of a threat on the feet, then Silva rightfully took the fight to the ground where his jiujitsu skills came into play.

I believe he is a BJJ black belt who doesnt fight as a BJJ fighter. By that I mean that he doesnt use BJJ strategy to win a fight (his strikes arent set ups for controlling distance and taking the fight to the mat), but he does have the skills and strategy on hand for when he needs it.

Another example that comes to mind is Conan Silveria. He is a strong powerful guy obviously making him a tough fight for anyone, but without his physical attriubtes, would he be considered a bjj blackbelt? He got reversed by a much lighter Kickboxer (Maurice Smith), stuck his arm straight up so Sakuraba could armbar him (once again, not saying the fact that he got submitted by Sakuraba as many great blackbelts how done but HOW he got submitted - the obvious mistake he made), and tapped to a forearm choke by a wrestler (Dan Severn).


I think they are two completely different cases. Silva didnt make nearly the mistakes we've seen Conan make. Silva lost position on the much bigger Hunt, whereas Conan has made every mistake in the book. Fighting someone as big, explosive, and as athletic as Hunt can make anyone's ground skills look bad. Conan doesnt have that excuse, as he was almost always the larger and stronger of the two.

Andre - good points, and I see your point that the ground skills can be masked if your #1 strength is something else (thai boxing). The problem I see though is that at what point does not fighting like a bjj fighter even on the ground, make you a different animal? Maybe he is a great wrestler or submission grappler, but is he a bjj blackbelt in the traditional sense? If you never attempt to pass the guard and just try to ground and pound (as Silva does and did against Hunt), if your guard mostly consists of you punching your opponent in it, if almost all your positions consist of you striking enough with the main goal of just standing up again to strike or stomp some more, at what point does this put you outside the brazilian jiu-jitsu paradigm? Or maybe I'm just extremely bored at work, and am making something out of nothing?

Although it doesn't really matter to what we're talking about I should also note that although I think Silva took more punishment, there is no way you should lose the split decision in a close fight if you finish the fight mounted on top of your opponent punching him for a significant amount of time. And I also think that Silva is one of the 7 best fighters on the planet against any weight class (the others being Fedor, Mino, CroCop, Randy and yes I know I'm going to get flamed for this, Rickson and Royce)

BJJ blackbelt does not mean your or invincible or won't get reversed or even have your game shut down.  Guys at this level are usually freaky athletic.  Just look at Sperry vs Kerr in ADCC.  Kerr almost finished it with a leg lock.  Another example is Mir (purple belt) breaking Traven's (blackbelt) arm with an armbar.  Mir had just landed a solid jab and had Traven pretty out of it.  Silva may not be ready to win the Mundials but if you put him with all the other BJJ blackbelts that were promoted last year I'd say he would do pretty well against them. 

Also, you can't really seperate attributes from ability, unfortunately. I mean, you can against the untrained, but Silva's jiujitsu developed according to his physical characteristics, just like everyone else's, and to suddenly give him someone else's body wouldnt exactly be fair.

Silva's guard saved him from a guy with some of the hardest hands in the sport. Hunt's G&P would have wrecked alot of other guys.

"It just seems odd for a bjj blackbelt to get the ground and want to
stand up and stomp their opponent who is unskilled on the ground."

He beats them in to submission, doesn't that count.

In Silva's second fight with Sak, he also should've held that armlock,

BJJ BB Royce Gracie even said so. Funny too, since with that, he
probably came closer to submitting Sak then any Gracie did.

"How good would Silva be if he had the physical attributes of Royce
Gracie or the physical attributes of the average man for that matter?"

What if Helio had the body of Silva, his BJJ would be different too.

I think the old man would have been impressed with Silva's defense from guard. Hunt never really had a better position than inside of Vanderlei's guard from the clips I saw.

I think to make that judgement you would need to see him with a gi on against another bjj blackbelt, until then, its really all speculation.

He is a good fighter, and he does well at blending MT and BJJ together. Hes not the best fighter maybe, but there are a lot of fights Ive seen where bjj blackbelts make silly mistakes.

Silva said in an interview (if i remember right)that he doesnt go for subs while he is in superior position on ground but wants to KO his opponents instead..

During his career it seems to work for him so why change it..LOL
His style is stand up fighting,knocking people out..

In the last 1 minute of the fight with Hunt when Silva had the mount if he only exploded with punches i think they would give him the win..


MMA is not BJJ. If you are going to judge Silva's BJJ skills, then it is ONLY fair to him if you judge him based on performance in a BJJ event.

MMA is a completely different sport than BJJ. Black belt in BJJ does NOT automatically mean you are going to submit anybody/everybody in MMA. The name is "Mixed" martial arts for a reason........ there is NO one style, BJJ notwithstanding, that works on everybody. Besides, let's take the guys who are favored to win the Mundials, hit them in the head a bunch of times until they fall down a few times, and THEN see how well they can submit other people (who have NOT been knocked down) in those very same Mundials. When you take punishment, it changes everything.

Silva is a highly skilled MMA fighter. How is he in BJJ? Don't know for sure. We'd have to see him compete there to tell. Till then, he's a damn good MMA fighter first and foremost.