In each of his record 10 consecutive UFC middleweight title defenses, Anderson Silva has enjoyed the oddsmakers blessings as the favorite to retain his strap.
Although nothing will change in that regard when Silva locks horns with unbeaten middleweight young gun Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in July, "The Spider," a 3.05-to-1 favorite (-305), according to Bovada.com, remains cognizant that he's facing one of the biggest challenges of his illustrious career.
Strong, fast, young and extremely talented, the 28-year-old Weidman has all the ingredients to end the longest reign in UFC history.
Here are three reasons the soon-to-be 38-year-old Silva should fear "The All-American".
Some former collegiate wrestlers find their rhythm in submission grappling rather quickly. Others chose to use their wrestling base solely to ward off sweeps and submissions.
Weidman, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Hofstra University, certainly represents the former.
Before taking his first pro scrap in 2009, and with just three months of jiu-jitsu training, Weidman prevailed in his first Grappler's Quest tournament, taking his weight class and the absolute division with 13 straight submissions.
Granted, Silva has showed a tremendous propensity for defending and slapping on submissions. But with the influence of former welterweight titleholder and grappling legend Matt Serra, Weidman will surely look to pull of the unthinkable and submit "The Spider."
Two-time middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen provided a blueprint for besting the seemingly invincible Silva in their first encounter at UFC 117.
Sonnen mixed strikes with takedowns masterfully and pinned a banged up Silva on his back for the better part of five rounds. Barring a Hail Mary triangle armbar he surrendered in the waning minutes of the fight, Sonnen took all the proper measures to dethrone The Spider.
If Weidman, who's equally adept to blending strikes with shots, can employ a similar strategy to what Sonnen enacted against Silva, then The All-American will hand Silva a beating akin to the one he absorbed at UFC 117.
It's tough to argue that there's a more gifted and vicious striker in the UFC than The Spider.
Knees, elbows, punches and kicks come from all angles, and Silva almost always lands with bad intentions and pinpoint accuracy.
However, if Silva intends to easily rip through Weidman in the standup department like he did to a fading Stephan Bonnar in his last outing, he could be in for an unpleasant surprise.
Weidman has used the last four years to sponge up every bit of striking knowledge that he could extract from world-renowned coach Ray Longo, a fact that was evident in The All-American's last fight with Mark Munoz at UFC on Fuel TV 4.
Weidman outstruck a man who was riding a four-fight UFC winning steak, Munoz, 46-1, including 28-0 in the significant strikes category. The All-American then KO'd Munoz with a ferocious elbow and follow-up ground and pound.
Even though two of his five fights with the company ended in the first round, Weidman has yet to be outstruck in the UFC. One way or another, Weidman will quickly find out how his Muay Thai chops match up with the venomous Silva.