Anderson Silva gets a chance to regain his crown six months after dropping the UFC Middleweight Championship in an upset loss to Chris Weidman. The rematch in the UFC 168 main event is rightfully generating a lot of hype.
The loss by Silva was a combination of ineffective tactics and a smart game plan by Weidman, who didn't allow himself to get baited by the veteran Brazilian. He didn't fall into the trap so many others have in the past, and it allowed him to win the title.
He can expect to see a motivated Silva in his first title defense. Knowing that, let's examine the biggest keys for the longtime champion if he's going to get back on top of the middleweight division while exacting some revenge on Weidman.
Don't Alter Fighting Style
The biggest mistake fighters make after a loss is going overboard when it comes to redefining their approach. One loss is no reason to overreact, especially for a superstar of Silva's caliber who was on top of the sport for so long before Weidman connected with a shot that ended his run.
Sure, some fans would probably like to see him severely cut down on the showboat antics, but it's that flash and confidence that allowed the 38-year-old southpaw to remain on top for so long. Perhaps he should take a little bit of that away for rematch, but he can't stop being himself and risk losing his edge.
Above all else, he just has to give Weidman credit for coming out strong and doing what he needed to do the first time around. Beyond that, Silva should just put the fight firmly in the past and stick with what helped him dominate for so long.
Set A More Aggressive Pace
One thing Weidman did really well in the first matchup was make Silva fight at his pace. In some respects, that lack of action can be directly related to the uptick in the Brazilian's antics and eventually the American taking advantage with a well-timed strike.
Silva needs to change that in the rematch. He must be more aggressive, especially in the early going, to put some pressure on Weidman. The longer he goes without using his efficient striking to gain an upper hand, the more the fight shifts toward the champion.
It's something Silva was able to do with great frequency in the fights leading up to the Weidman bout. But for whatever reason he never seemed completely comfortable in terms of attacking, and it came back to haunt him in the second round.
Maintain Distance and Defend Takedowns
Finally, the basics remain the same from the first fight. Silva must maintain distance between himself and Weidman to avoid it becoming a wrestling match, which would favor the American. Kicks will be an effective tool to stay away from the ground game while also wearing him down.
When Weidman does move in for a takedown, Silva needs to work quickly to back out or, in a case where they do go to the ground, get up quickly and re-establish control. It's not that he's a poor wrestler, but that's where the American feels most comfortable.
Ultimately, it comes down to Silva being more aggressive in bringing his strengths into the fight, which didn't happen the last time around. If he can do that, he has a great chance to score a victory in the rematch and regain the belt.