When Alessio Sakara’s original opponent for UFC on Versus 3, Rafael Natal, pulled up lame in mid-February 2011, UFC matchmakers called upon Ring of Combat middleweight champion Chris Weidman to step in on short notice.
Weidman entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak. Three of those fights ended via first-round stoppage, including a technical knockout victory over Uriah Hall, the fight that gave Weidman the Ring of Combat title.
Sakara was riding a three-fight winning streak entering his fight with Weidman. That winning streak, coupled with his tenure in the UFC, did not make Sakara the favorite entering the fight.
The oddsmakers were on the mark on this one, figuring the one-dimensional striking style of Sakara would not be able to overcome the NCAA All-American wrestling credentials of Weidman.
Weidman’s striking was still developing when he faced Sakara, at least when the fight was standing. Weidman’s strikes were looping and slow, but Sakara failed to take advantage of the openings that were left by Weidman. That would prove to be a huge mistake on the part of Sakara.
Weidman abandoned the stand-up game in the second and third rounds, using his wrestling and ground striking game to control and bloody Sakara to earn a win in his first UFC contest.
There are questions surrounding Weidman heading into that July 6 contest, but there are those who feel that Weidman possesses the style that can give Silva fits. We’ve heard that refrain before concerning Silva’s opponents, and each time Silva has left the Octagon with UFC gold in his possession. Will this time be different?
We’ll find out the answer to that question when the cage door locks behind Silva and Weidman in one week.