UFC 168 is already being pegged as the biggest pay-per-view of all time.
The event's ever-growing attention and hype has not sustained itself based on a variety of fights, though. Instead, this Saturday's end-of-year show has orbited one big fight and one big fight only.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II.
As arguably the most anticipated rematch in mixed martial history, Silva will aim to avenge a July loss at the very sneaky left hand of then-challenger Weidman.
In order for "The Spider" to take back what was once his and prove that Weidman's first victory was more luck than fate, he must successfully answer these five important questions.
Before UFC 162, Anderson Silva had never lost in the UFC. That unworldly epoch of success and dominance lasted 16 fights over six years.
Therefore, it's understandable how foreign the idea of losing must have been to Silva after Chris Weidman leveled him with one swift left hook back in July.
It was a devastating loss in itself, but made that much more compelling considering Silva's reign of excellence throughout his Octagon tenure.
With that said, nobody truly knows how Silva is going to rebound after his first UFC loss. While the skill to perform at the highest professional level is most certainly still there, winning just isn't a certainty these days.
It should be interesting to say the least.
Time and time again, Anderson Silva has made some of the best strikers in the UFC look like blind lumberjacks.
However, as good as the Brazilian is at avoiding his opponent's axe and chopping his own tree down, he failed to dodge Chris Weidman's fists at UFC 162.
With hands at his side and a smile on his face, Silva did little to protect himself. Some might even say he happily invited Weidman to hit him.
While we've seen Silva willingly take damage in the past to display Muhammad Ali-like toughness, it ultimately cost him the UFC championship five months ago.
If he respects Weidman's power, tucks his chin and bulls forward this weekend, then Silva should once again feast on his feet.
With much respect, Chuck Liddell is the poster boy for long-lasting champions turned unconscious foe.
As arguably one of the greatest champions in UFC history, Liddell was as unstoppable as anybody in the sport. He leveled opponents with resilient power, superb timing and overwhelming pressure.
However, after Rashad Evans cleaned his clock at UFC 88, things were never the same. Tainted with unfamiliar defeat, Liddell never regained his prominence, losing by first-round finishes in both of his fights that would follow.
While Anderson Silva has been more dominant than Liddell ever was, it's still a cause for concern. Some fighters just can't regain preexisting perfection after experiencing such physical agony.
As good as Silva is, he's still coming into UFC 168 with one more knockout defeat on his resume than he had before. Whether or not that leads to him coming down with Chuck Liddell Syndrome has yet to be determined.
So much has been said about Chris Weidman's historic finish of Anderson Silva at UFC 162.
It was a remarkable knockout and will go down as one of the biggest punches ever thrown inside a cage.
However, as prolific as it was, it's unlikely to happen again. That means Silva needs to game-plan for what's actually going to happen—and Weidman trying to take him down is what's actually going to happen.
In their first meeting, Weidman was able to get to Silva early and land some nice ground-and-pound. However, after dropping his hands and giving himself more leverage against Weidman's takedowns, Silva stayed on his feet.
As far as this weekend is concerned, Silva needs to understand how focused and centered Weidman is going to be. He isn't going to be taken out of his game plan like last time, and if Silva starts to reign strikes, "The All-American" will look to bring the fight to the mat.
In any case, staying low, staying humble and staying patient is the best recipe for Silva to defend Weidman's wrestling. The occasional flying knee will obviously help, too.
Possessing the mental fortitude to train hard, focus intently and prepare religiously to step inside the Octagon is often half the battle when it comes to the world's best fighters.
Your head needs to be in the right place come fight night or disaster is imminent.
For Anderson Silva, who has shown a sometimes blase attitude toward losing his infamous belt, prolonging the determination and desire to become the middleweight champ once again is his biggest hurdle.
With a lengthy career behind him, a superfight with Roy Jones Jr. on the horizon and enough money to retire three times over, Silva may find it more difficult than usual to keep his mental composure.
However, if he's willing to give it his all this Saturday at UFC 168, he'll most likely recapture UFC gold.
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