UFC 162: Is Chris Weidman Biting off More Than He Can Chew?
You can't blame him. Over the past few years, Weidman's had a crash course in how to secure and hype title fights, a course given by the master himself.
I am, of course, referring to Chael Sonnen, who used his considerable verbal talents to secure a deserved title shot with Silva, yet another shot at Silva that he didn't entirely deserve and then a light heavyweight title fight with Jon Jones that he didn't even remotely deserve.
If you're Weidman, and you're heading into a summer title fight with Silva—at the biggest event of the year, the UFC's International Fight Week (complete with fan expo!)—wouldn't you do your best to ratchet up the hype a few levels? Especially if you're essentially a complete unknown facing one of the most legendary athletes the sport has ever seen?
That last sentence wasn't a slight on Weidman, either, so do me a favor and save the angry comments about how I've never stepped in the cage and how I don't know what I'm talking about.
Weidman is a fantastic fighter, and I've already picked him to beat Silva at UFC 162. I think he has all the tools, and I think he's getting his title fight at the right time.
I think he leaves Las Vegas as the new middleweight champion.
But there's a huge difference between being a great fighter and being a star. Weidman is doing the right thing by constantly discussing how he's going to beat Silva. But I'm wondering: Are we going to see a repeat of UFC 112?
You know the event I'm talking about. It's legendary at this point, and for all the wrong reasons.
Silva, fed up with what he felt was "disrespect" from Demian Maia, decided to embarrass the jiu-jitsu expert. He danced. He did a few jigs. He ran away, and by that I mean that he actually turned his back and ran away. What he didn't do was actually fight Maia, and that infuriated Dana White to such an extent that he openly discussed cutting Silva if he ever pulled the same stunt again.
Who wins this fight?
Silva hasn't pulled the same stunt since, but I have a funny feeling about this Weidman fight. The champ has been quite vocal, even before UFC 162's main event was announced, that Weidman wasn't deserving of a title fight. He pushed for Georges St-Pierre, mentioned Luke Rockhold and is now possibly entertaining the idea of a fight with Jon Jones.
In other words, anything to avoid fighting Weidman. And man, that sounds familiar.
I'm not saying Silva's going to clown around when he steps in the cage with Weidman. But there's a chance. There's always a chance with Silva, because he's a mercurial and brilliant fighter who, when he's at his best, can do anything he wants to his opponents.
If Weidman isn't at the top of the game, Silva could dance around, do his Muhammad Ali impression and generally prove that Weidman doesn't belong in the same cage. Or perhaps he'll decide to decimate Weidman like he did to Forrest Griffin, making him look like an amateur and knocking him out with a jab while walking backward.
Even if I think Weidman is beating Silva, I fully recognize that Silva is capable of greatness. Even at 38 years old, he can still do things that nobody else in the history of this sport has done. That includes making his opponent look like he's never fought a day in his life.
I hope that's not what we see at UFC 162. I know that's not what you want to see.
And when it comes right down to it, I don't think we'll see a repeat of Abu Dhabi. Silva's looking to cement his legacy; why else would he sign a new 10-fight deal with the UFC? Why would he make constant mention of potential superfights with St-Pierre and Jones?
But remember this, and remember it well: It's always a possibility. With Silva, nothing is impossible. And if Weidman doesn't watch what he says, well, he might just put Silva in the mood to do something we'll never forget.
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