Chris Weidman finally got the opportunity he has worked hard for, and now, he will face UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 162 this July. the undefeated Weidman looks to continue his streak and dethrone Silva in what will serve as the 11th middleweight title defense for Silva.
As usual, the MMA world stands split on this fight. How so? Half of the MMA world sees Silva recording an 11th successful title defense, while the other half sees Weidman's heavy hands, vicious elbows and relentless ground game paying dividends towards the potential upset of the year.
With an understandable amount of pressure on the undefeated Weidman, will he face fan backlash if he should fall to the champ? This remains a hot-button question, and while every title challenger might face criticism for their failed bids at the big one, Weidman should not face any fan backlash if his first pro loss comes against the best middleweight in the world.
First off, Weidman comes off of an injury that halted a UFC 155 bout with Tim Boetsch. Hence, this title bid will mark Weidman's first fight since UFC on Fuel TV 4, when he finished Mark Munoz. While fans of the young prospect will obviously hope Weidman shows no signs of cage rust, none can rule out that possibility before the cage door closes.
Secondly, facing the champion can do strange things to undefeated challengers. Sometimes, they can motivate the challenger, but at other times, the challenger's title shot could prove to be a case of "too much, too soon." Weidman's shot came not only because of how impressively he defeated Munoz, but because the former contenders fell in bouts with potential title-eliminator implications. But is he really ready?
Finally, remember who Weidman faces at UFC 162. Silva stands across the cage from credible contenders, and he always finds a way to make them look like they don't even belong in the upper echelon. If he can do the same to Weidman, that should not serve as a knock on Weidman.
Rather, it should remind us that, like it or not, "The Spider" is still that good, even for a fighter nearing the age when most men call it a career. Give Weidman the chance, however, and he could prove himself as better than the world's best fighter this July.