The betting odds have begun to drop already this morning as Weidman comes in at plus-190. Money coming in on the challenger is not unexpected following the flood of predictions from fighters and pundits alike.
Weidman is the biggest threat to Silva's long reign to date. He brings in excellent wrestling, a strong ground game and evolving striking. Where Silva is weakest, Weidman excels. Fighters like GSP are lining up to predict Weidman to topple Silva.
The challenger enters the fight with a lot of self-belief that he can upend the champion. That is needed.
Several of Silva's opponents beat themselves before they entered the cage, but that will not happen with Weidman.
Chael Sonnen has laid down a blueprint that no one has been able to follow just yet. Weidman has the skills to do just that, and witnessing Sonnen's success at UFC 117 and in the first round of UFC 148 eliminated some of the aura surrounding Silva.
Silva is the unquestioned leader in this category. He is one of the best, if not the best, pure strikers in the division. What he has been able to do to his opponents is astonishing.
Weidman is still growing in the stand-up department, and he has been hit by substandard strikers. He will need to keep his defense tight in this fight or he will fail in his upset bid. However, he does need to gain Silva's respect on the feet.
Weidman's wrestling and ground game is superior to Silva's. This is where Weidman needs to get the fight, and everyone knows it.
Silva can be taken down. His takedown defense is good, but not great.
Silva has a good guard where he can avoid taking damage. Weidman needs to be able to pass his guard to where he can set up his strong ground attack game both in striking and submissions. Weidman has the ability to finish Silva.
My brain says to go with Weidman.
Silva is 38-years-old, he's slower than he once was, and he can be taken down. Weidman is a nightmare stylistic matchup on paper. But that's the problem. On paper.
On paper, Dan Henderson was a bad matchup for the champion. Fights are not fought on paper. Weidman will still have to climb inside the Octagon and be locked in with Silva. Is it smart to bet against the champion until he shows us he will in fact lose? He has done so many amazing things it is hard to sit back and legitimately pick against him.
I can't do it. Yet.
I still believe Silva will do something special. Weidman's striking is not up to the level it needs to be to truly get Silva's respect, and that will allow The Spider to control the fight. Weidman will not be able to set-up his takedowns appropriately, and they will be easily defended.
At some point in the first three rounds, Weidman will be forced to stand, and he will be punished for it.
Silva retains his title.
Betting Odds: Silva (-240) against Weidman (+190) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Silva defeats Weidman by TKO in the second round