If Anderson Silva is to avenge his loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 162, he's going to have to change up the game plan that he used to defeat so many other opponents.
The new middleweight champion was able to get to Silva in the first round. He secured a takedown early thanks to a second effort after Silva initially defended the double-leg.
From there, Weidman landed a few strikes on the ground before Silva worked his way back to his feet to do what he always does—lure his opponents into a striking match that they can't win.
Silva has always been the best at getting opponents to overextend themselves. He puts his hands down and taunts his adversaries to set himself up to counterstrike with his pinpoint accuracy. The result is usually another highlight finish.
What he didn't account for was the All-American wrestler exhibiting so much poise under pressure. Weidman timed his flurry of strikes to catch "The Spider" napping.
Given that Weidman already showed he's keen to Silva's tactics, The Spider should abandon his typical game plan against the first man to knock him out.
However, according to a Silva interview with GQ Brazil (translated by Google Chrome's translation tool), he's not going to change his tactics in the rematch. When asked if he would do anything different in the second go-around, Silva responded:
I think I would focus more. Would make a reverse path, but would not change the tactic. I am confident that my game did just that did not work out. Game is game, you can win or lose.
From those words, we can expect Silva to continue to use taunting as a way to engage Weidman in a stand-up exhibition.
The problem is that Weidman knows how to handle that. He's not going to be drawn into taking risks just because Silva goads him. The Spider will have to be the aggressor or depend on his jiu-jitsu if he wants to come out on top in the rematch.
After all, his jiu-jitsu saved him against Chael Sonnen in their first bout. As arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Silva should be able to adjust after losing for the first time in the UFC.
Perhaps Silva should learn from boxer Roy Jones Jr., whom Silva has long displayed an interest in fighting.
Jones Jr., also known for his flashy style and in-ring taunting, began his boxing career at a near-perfect 49-1 with the one loss coming by way of disqualification. He too seemed nearly unbeatable until he was stunned in the second round of his bout with Antonio Tarver.
With the mystique of Jones Jr. put to rest, the one-time pound-for-pound champion finished 7-7 in his last 14 fights, permanently damaging his legacy.
Silva must show that he's capable of adjusting after being figured out by a hungry contender. Otherwise, his legacy could be in similar danger.
It's too early to say that Silva is headed in that direction. You can't make too much of one loss for such a dominant athlete, but the rematch will tell us all we need to know about his ability to carry on as one of the best in the sport.