There is no question that he has a chance at the upset. Anything can happen in MMA. When the breakdowns of the fight come, they will focus on Weidman's wrestling game and Silva's trouble with wrestlers in the past.
Silva has been taken down before, and as a former All-American, Weidman has the ability to put "The Spider" on the mat.
When dissecting the fight, the majority of experts will ask: Can Weidman take Silva down repeatedly?
However, that is not the X-factor.
That belongs to Weidman's jiu-jitsu and his all-around top game.
If, or perhaps when, Weidman takes down Silva, it will be unlike anything that the champ has previously faced.
Silva has dealt with wrestlers with a strong top controlling top game before, but his defensive skills from his back nullified them. He avoided damage well.
The champ has also been on his back against accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioners and fared well against them.
So what makes Weidman different?
He has the controlling top game of a top-tier wrestler with the ability to smother Silva.
A variable in this fight will be the referee. Will Weidman get quick stand-ups, or will the referee make Silva work his way to his feet? The referee will alter the game plans of both fighters.
Silva is exceptional from his back both offensively and defensively, while Weidman is excellent from the top in the same way. The ground game at UFC 162 will be a chess match worth watching closely.
If Weidman is forced to stay active from the top, his X-factor will come into play.
Chael Sonnen spent a lot of time on top of Silva in their two fights but was unable to do much damage. Sonnen has never been known for his brutal ground-and-pound. Instead, he remains active and accumulates his ground stats over the course of a fight.
That is not what Weidman does.
Weidman has fantastic ground-and-pound that can cause visible damage, including cuts, and he has the viciousness to stop a fight.
The other factor in Weidman's top game is his defense. Silva will find it hard to find a submission from the bottom as he did against Sonnen in their first fight.
That will be worrisome for the Brazilian. Weidman has the tools to defend The Spider's submissions and remain on top.
His all-around top game makes him a more potent challenger than anyone who has come before him. It makes him better than Sonnen, Yushin Okami and others cut from the same ilk. He should not be lumped in with them.
Weidman's submission offense surpasses every previous contender's except for Demian Maia's, but Maia could not get Silva down. Weidman can accomplish what Maia never could.
Submitting the champion is a tall order, but the All-American has an underrated submission game that could find a spot to stun Silva. Three of Weidman's nine victories are by submission including a Submission of the Night performance against Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 131.
First things first, he must take Silva down. Not an easy feat at all.
The stars could be aligned for Weidman to grind out a decision victory. He has had a full training camp to prepare for 25 minutes of hard-nosed work.
The undefeated challenger has a tall task ahead of him, but with his wrestling—and more importantly his top control—he has the tools to upend the longtime champion.
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