The culprit who devastated drones of Silva fans, Chris Weidman—a veteran of just 10 pro fights—now sits at the forefront of a behemoth wave of hype that the rematch will surely produce.
Silva has vowed to return even stronger and vindicate his lone promotional loss and his only career KO setback at the UFC 168 rematch in December.
But if Weidman, a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, who’s aptly nicknamed “The All-American,” can hand the former pound-for-pound linchpin another upset loss, will “The Spider’s” immaculate legacy remain intact?
If Silva drops his second straight contest, particularly if he gets finished for a second straight time, will the 38-year-old Brazilian ever vie for the middleweight strap again?
The odds have shifted slightly in Weidman's favor from their first meeting, although Silva will still represent the favorite. Aggregate betting website Bovada.com has tabbed The Spider a 1.35-to-1 favorite (-135) to top Weidman (+105).
Some pundits contend that Silva will respond from his first UFC loss in 17 bouts and return refreshed and motivated, properly prepared to exact his revenge on The All-American.
Those same experts have also claimed that a complete version of Silva didn’t show up at UFC 162, and that Weidman scored a fluke KO chiefly on account of The Spider’s exaggerated taunts.
Advocates of Weidman have conjured up a similar argument, many claiming that The All-American had an off night at UFC 162, despite the fact that he rendered Silva temporarily unconscious by night’s end.
Regardless of how the rematch unfolds, fans should expect to see a more serious and mentally healthy Silva gracing the Octagon.
In the same vein, those who support The All-American will anticipate an even more confident and well-oiled Weidman come Dec. 28.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Silva offered this prediction to Ariel Helwani regarding his rematch with Weidman: “I [will] give back the knockout. I’m working hard right now. Chris is the new champion and is a great fighter, but I’m training hard. The new Anderson is coming.”
The Spider also elaborated on how comfortable he feels with his life’s work, essentially telling Helwani that wins and losses don’t determine everything at this point in his career.
Come on bro, definitely no. I’m working hard for a long time. My big goal is to train the kids and new athletes coming. I’m [a] normal guy. Sometimes I have good day, [and] sometimes I don’t have good day. People will have the chance to see the real Anderson. It’s normal.
Silva appears to have lost some of the bravado and swagger that he flashed before his setback to Weidman, even though The Spider still has all the attributes that made him the sport’s most feared fighter.
Maybe he’s just expressing relief that most of the unrealistic expectations for his career have subsided. Or perhaps Silva is just a bona fide sportsman who doesn’t mind stepping aside for the changing of the guard.
Either way, it appears that Silva will sleep just as well with a second straight loss to Weidman as he would with a triumphant win in the rematch.
But if The Spider—who's 11-1 in UFC title fights—appears prepared to rest on his laurels, regardless of what happens at UFC 168, then his fans can’t realistically expect many more title fights.
One thing seems certain about the rematch, though, and that's the fact that Silva will have genuine motivation and plenty of reasons to feel human for the first time in years. If anything, fans should expect better versions of both fighters and a more memorable scrap than Silva-Weidman I.