Silva vs. Weidman: undisputed champion vs. undefeated contender. While the main event at UFC 162 isn't as even as people are speculating, the comparisons are unbelievable.
Every fight fan, and even the casual fan, knows a few things heading into UFC 162 and those are that Anderson Silva is the UFC middleweight champion and No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world while Chris Weidman is the undefeated No. 2 contender in the division.
And everyone from top fighters to "diehard" mixed martial arts fans are rallying behind Weidman, proclaiming him to be the man to finally dethrone "The Spider."
While a comparison of their bodies of work shows that he could have what it takes to win, it doesn't tell the entire story.
A classic tale of the tape shows that Silva and Weidman are very similar physical specimens. Although Silva clearly has the disadvantage in the age department, that hasn't been a factor in any of his fights to date, so fans should probably look past that.
After the physical analysis of the fight come the statistics in the cage. A look at the numbers indicates that the two fighters are surprisingly similar.
Weidman's average of 3.23 strikes landed per minute is slightly better than Silva's 3.17, but "The Spider" is much more accurate at 67 percent—the highest rate in UFC history. In striking defense, Weidman's statistics are a tad better, but not enough to raise any eyebrows.
The biggest advantage that Weidman has on paper is clearly his wrestling, as he possesses a 4.47 takedown average per 15 minutes compared to just a 0.72 average for Silva.
Weidman has never been taken down in his career, but Silva carries a solid takedown defense percentage of 70 percent.
If the numbers never lie, it would appear that everyone who is fueling the Weidman hype train is correct. His overall statistics are actually a little better than Silva's and he's still getting better.
But it's not always so much about what you know as what you can prove. The real tale is told in the strengths and weaknesses shown on tape for both of these fighters.
The thing that makes Silva so dangerous is his ability as a counterpuncher. He is so much smarter than any fighter that stands across from him that he simply lets them strike until they make a mistake.
Silva's first fight in the UFC against Chris Leben demonstrates his biggest strength, which is his ability to gauge his opponents and counter their mistakes. Weidman is an inside/aggressive striker, but charging Silva is the biggest mistake a fighter can make because he will land shots while dodging a ton of wild ones.
Exceptional work in the clinch is the other advantage for Silva, as shown in his fight with Rich Franklin. Silva tied Franklin up in the clinch and used knees to kill the body and take the spirit—and, in this case, the fight.
Weidman, on the other hand, appears to be what I'll call a counter wrestler. When examining footage of Weidman's five UFC fights, it seems he gets most of his takedowns when his opponents come forward to strike.
In Weidman's two decision victories in the Octagon, he took Alessio Sakara down five times and Demian Maia four times. His highlights show a patient and powerful Weidman waiting for both men to come forward before jumping in for a leg to secure a takedown and eventually a victory,
Another strength that Weidman possesses over Silva is most likely his power and ability to throw combinations. Silva is excellent at timing opponents' strikes and realizing tendencies, but Weidman showed against Mark Munoz that he can combine strikes well and use different looks.
According to ESPN.com, Silva is 16-0 in the UFC, with 14 of those victories coming from stoppages. He holds 20 career knockouts and six career submissions in his 33 victories.
Weidman is 5-0 in the UFC, with three stoppages. He has nine professional fights.
While the statistics are surprisingly even, if not tipped in Weidman's favor, the sample size is insufficient for Weidman. And while he has enough hype, tools and confidence for both fighters in this main event, it most likely won't matter.
Weidman is the perhaps the toughest opponent Anderson Silva has ever faced, but Silva is without a doubt the toughest Weidman has ever seen. Just look at the footage.
Silva will be the man until he's not and he will always be a legend in the sport of MMA. While Weidman appears capable of stealing the title, I believe this fight will brand him as the myth.
Unless otherwise noted, statistics courtesy of FightMetric.com.
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