Toughness, ground work get Claudio Silva by Leon Edwards by split decision

The record book is going to say "split decision," but Claudio Silva won Saturday by sheer perseverance.

Silva was outclassed standing up against Leon Edwards and took a great deal of punishment. A cut near his left eye was dripping blood down his chest. But somehow "Hannibal" dug deep and pulled off a split decision victory over the debuting Edwards (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) at UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1: "Shogun" vs. Saint Preux in Uberlandia, Brazil.

Silva (10-1) sealed the deal with a dominant third round. He took Edwards down right away and spent the majority of the round in side control and mount. Edwards did sweep Silva and end the fight with a flurry, but the damage, err, control had already been done.

Edwards (8-2) was clearly the better striker and he landed left hands repeatedly to Silva’s chin. After spending some time on the bottom in the first round, Edwards rallied to land some big shots toward the end of it.

That continued into the second round with Edwards landing lefts and combinations and Silva just eating them. What might have swayed the judges, though, was a late takedown landed by Silva. He slipped into mount and landed some nice ground and pound, which drew big cheers from the partisan Brazilian crowd.

Neither welterweight looked ready for primetime, but Silva proved a solid ground game and series toughness can overcome awkward striking, even in the UFC. Edwards certainly has potential, but a striker might have been a better matchup for him in his debut.

Silva, who trains out of England like Edwards, has now won 11 in a row, including his first two bouts in the UFC. He’ll likely get a step up in competition from here.