Chris Weidman will make the first defense of his UFC Middleweight Championship on Saturday, and it will be against the man he took the belt from.
By now everyone knows how the first fight went down. Whether you ordered the previous pay-per-view or not, you know what happened. This is one of the most anticipated events in UFC history due to the circumstances surrounding the last fight and the unknowns heading into the rematch.
Weidman answered a lot of questions after the first meeting. He was never mystified by the Anderson Silva mystique. He did what he said he was going to do. And he shut off Silva’s lights with a punch.
However, now there are more questions. Here are three big questions you have to ask yourself as we prepare for UFC 168.
Is He Too Confident?
Confidence is a great thing, and it is one of the biggest factors why Weidman defeated Silva in the first fight. With that under his belt, will he enter too confident?
If he feels like Superman, then Silva will hit him with earth-shattering Kryptonite. Or would that be Krypton-shattering? Regardless, he has to have a healthy respect for the all-time great.
There is a point where confidence goes to overconfidence. It’s a high-wire act to balance.
Can He Survive a Silva Strike?
Weidman tasted a bit of Silva’s striking in their first match, but he was never hit with a big shot. Can he survive one? Or will it be a fight-altering event that puts gold back around the waist of the challenger?
There is no question that if Silva lands something flush, then it will be the end of the fight, but those are not the only clean, effective strikes that land. If Weidman stands with Silva, as he did last fight, he has to be able to weather some of the storm. He has to have a chin that allows him to find success should Silva not play games.
Standing and trading with Silva is not the smartest game plan in the world, but this is MMA. Weidman has to have that in his arsenal. The ability to absorb a shot from the most devastating striker in MMA history needs to be a crucial element to that.
It is something Weidman would not want to have to prove, but something he may need to fall back on—if he has the durability to eat a shot.
What Will Be the Game Plan?
Weidman is a highly intelligent fighter, but in the first fight, he admitted that Silva’s taunting got to him a bit.
Will he be more strict with his game plan? Will we see him wrestle Silva to the mat and seek a submission finish? Will he simply grind on Silva to tire him out in the early stages? Or perhaps he will chose to initiate the striking exchanges?
The biggest question of the fight is what will the game plans be. Weidman’s is more crucial to the fight than Silva’s. Weidman’s wrestling pedigree allows him to dictate where this fight will take place, and that is why it is going to be waiting on pins and needles to see how he approaches the rematch.
Fighters who can game-plan go far in the sport and see their careers go on longer. Weidman has chosen wisely to date, but we will see how much of a gambler he is in Las Vegas on Saturday.