Anderson Silva, widely considered the greatest talent in the UFC and MMA, will once again put his middleweight title on the line against breakout-contender Chris Weidman. Silva’s last title defense was against his rival Chael Sonnen, which will have taken place precisely a year before Weidman will step into the cage. He last squared off against Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight showdown and put on yet another highlight performance.
Anderson has shown his dominance at both 185 and 205 weight classes, but middleweight is where he reigns supreme.
Chris Weidman has been very vocal about getting his shot, and after putting the pressure on Silva’s camp, the two have finally come to an agreement. Originally Silva showed little interest in facing Weidman, claiming he was not a PPV seller, nor had done enough to deserve a shot. Time will tell if Weidman will pull in the PPV buys that Sonnen or Silva’s past opponents have, but Silva’s fame will already set a standard of monetary success.
Weidman and others have expressed that his style and abilities are a dangerous challenge to Silva, and his confidence in asking for this fight is unwavering. However, all of Silva’s opponents have been confident in pre-fight rituals—and even when walking out to the cage—but when the fight starts, a whole different story unfolds.
Silva has shown his “medusa-effect” on his opponents, and you see many great fighters look outclassed. This may be from nerves, paired with the level of talent from “The Spider” among other things, but whatever the case, Silva has been king of the hill for many years and has shown very little signs of any downslide.
Silva is a smart technical fighter, but so is Weidman.
Weidman is on a terrific streak; he is undefeated in his career, sitting at 9-0 with six of those wins coming before the judge’s verdict. He has shown an excellent wrestling forte, and if there is one area that Silva has shown vulnerability, it has been on the ground. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at his record and his opponents, but he has only been in trouble when he has been put on his back.
Weidman has the wrestling to be a strong presence on the ground, but it will be a matter of if he can even get the fight to the ground in the first place. Silva was dominated like never before in his first meeting with Sonnen, spending the majority of the 24-ish minutes on his back getting pummeled before finally catching Sonnen in a triangle and pulling off one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.
However, his rematch with Sonnen went completely different. Silva’s work on his takedown defense showed, and knowing Weidman poses a similar threat, he will surely look to tighten up that facet of his game even more.
While wrestling seems to be the best chance at dethroning the Brazilian superstar, Weidman does have great striking as well. It may not be as technical and crisp as others, but he is a well-rounded fighter that is a dangerous opponent for anyone. His last victory over top-contender Mark Munoz showed that he could win definitively over another wrestler and still use his hands to dictate the fight. Weidman’s game plan is anyone’s guess, but he certainly feels comfortable on his feet or on the ground.
Silva will want to go out there and do what he does best, and possibly do so in a manner that will send a statement to the fans and the UFC—that Weidman does not belong in the cage with him.
It won’t necessarily be a matter of trying to embarrass him, but rather trying to outclass him. Silva must be wary to not go into this fight over-confident and take it easy, nor should he want to drag out a fight to make a point. Silva had been widely criticized for some of his previous performances, but since then has been sticking to his highlight-reel ways.
He is looking to cement his legacy and continue his undefeated streak in the UFC, so with an opponent that isn’t as big of a name as Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones, he may want to put on a unique and dominant performance.
It’s always hard to bet against an undefeated fighter, but in this case they both have been undefeated in the UFC and on long winning-streaks. Someone will take their first loss in years, but it still is a stretch to bet against the champ in this particular case. Silva’s evasiveness, his unorthodox striking and presence, his accuracy and overall durability will cause new challenges for Weidman—the likes of which he has never faced in the UFC.
Then again, most people have never faced the caliber of opponent as Silva, until they actually fight Silva. Weidman has the tools to win this fight, but he may not have the carpenter skills to finish the job.