With Anderson Silva putting on yet another virtuoso display inside the cage, the obvious question coming out of UFC 153 is who should he face next? Other than Jon Jones, the man Silva seems least interested in facing is Chris Weidman.
Then again, one can understand the Brazilian’s trepidation, given the potential matchup issues posed in a bout with Weidman.
The former All-American wrestler from Hofstra University has, throughout his run in the UFC, demonstrated the prohibitive power of his grappling, dominating the likes of Mark Munoz as though the Filipino-American were a middling Division II college wrestler.
And that particular skill, more than any other, has proved problematic for the middleweight champion.
Although, despite his occasional struggles against credentialed wrestlers, Silva has always found a way to win—even when he hasn’t entered the cage at his physical peak. Strong wrestling alone, then, isn’t sufficient to best the long-reigning pound-for-pound king.
Fortunately for Weidman, he brings more than wrestling credentials to the party. Indeed, his stand-up game has continued on an upward trajectory since he came to the MMA world’s attention in early 2011.
I’m not suggesting that the native New Yorker will put on a stand-up clinic against Anderson Silva, but he has the requisite savvy to at least keep himself vertical while he searches for the takedown.
Perhaps more important still, the Serra-Longo protégé has something that Chael Sonnen lacked: a strong BJJ base to back up his wrestling.
Silva will have a much tougher time controlling the wrists of Weidman or setting traps for him while playing the guard game. Indeed, the 28-year-old has shown a preference for advancing his position and searching for submissions, rather than merely scoring points from inside his opponents’ guard.
Of course, the question is whether “The Spider” will actually take the fight in the near future. He seems adamant that Weidman requires more experience before he has earned a shot at the middleweight crown.
In truth, this seems more like a red herring from Silva. A more likely reason for the champion’s reluctance to accept the fight is that Weidman suffers from a mild case of “Glover Teixeira Syndrome.” Put more simply, he has the skills but not the profile.
Does Silva have a point? It is worth pointing out that the “All-American” last competed on a Fuel TV card that only attracted around 200,000 viewers, which is hardly the best platform from which to launch a pay-per-view bout with one of the sport’s top stars?
While the champ’s apprehension may not be motivated by sheer altruism, the Zuffa brass could be tempted to hold off on this particular bout until Weidman gains more exposure.
The nuances of business aside, one would be at pains to argue that the New Yorker hasn’t earned his shot. And if the UFC wants to project the illusion of a meritocracy, Weidman should be next in line for Anderson Silva.