Anderson Silva may well be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, but minus the trash talk of Chael Sonnen or the legend of Vitor Belfort’s highlight reel of knockouts, he hasn’t seemed to be in serious danger for years, his defences of the UFC Middleweight belt, while occasionally spectacular have often seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Too often, it’s been a case of not IF Silva will win, but whether he’ll choose to do it in the breathtaking, legend making, never-to-be-forgotten style we know he’s capable of, or whether he’ll coast, mock his opponent and win by a clear, yet ultimately dull and frustrating decision.
Aside from Chael Sonnen’s four glorious rounds of ground & pound back in 2010 – already ancient history in MMA terms – Silva hasn’t had to mount anything approaching a comeback or seemed anything but utterly relaxed since the first round of his fight with Dan Henderson in 2008.
So, we have the greatest of all time with 16 years of experience, not much mileage in terms of in-ring wars and arguably in the best form of his career against a kid with a quarter as many fights who has been inactive for a year.
Not promising. Or is it?
The stat line of Anderson Silva (33-4, 17 fight win streak, more than ten successful UFC title defences) vs. Chris Weidman (9-0, inactive for almost a year and having never fought a world champion before) is deceptive, largely because of Weidman.
Sure, he’s never faced a fighter of Silva’s calibre before, but few have. There is no experience which can prepare you for the Spider, so the argument is moot.
What Weidman does possess in abundance is skill, and unlike most of Silva’s recent conquests it is rounded skill. Weidman will be quite happy standing or going to the ground with Anderson. Well, perhaps not HAPPY standing with him, but he won’t be afraid or intimidated in the way that so many others have been.
Everyone has their favourite weapon of course, and for Weidman that is wrestling – which just so happens to be Silva’s weak point, with the last five rounds he’s lost in MMA all coming at the hands of wrestlers (Sonnen 4, Henderson 1).
The obvious course for Weidman is to take Silva down and attempt a ground and pound victory. Given that he’s a fair bit more submission savvy that Chael Sonnen, that is a good solid plan.
However, Weidman’s standup is much underrated, considering that he’s knocked out both Uriah Hall and Mark Munoz in brief career, with e latter coming via a smoothly slipped punch, elbow to the temple combo that was worthy of Silva himself.
I expect this fight to be a lot more competitive than the bookies lines suggest and Weidman has a great chance of living up to his boast of ruining all of the UFC’s plans for super fights.
Or Silva could dispatch him as if he were a fly and move on to a fight with GSP or Jon Jones.
I just don’t know. Suffice to say, I don’t think Anderson will get away with a coasted performance, and that is a very good thing for everyone.
MAIN (10 p.m. ET)
• Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman – for middleweight title
• Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
• Roger Gracie vs. Tim Kennedy
• Tim Boetsch vs. Mark Munoz
• Dennis Siver vs. Cub Swanson
PRELIMINARY (8 p.m. ET)
• Andrew Craig vs. Chris Leben
• Norman Parke vs. Kazuki Tokudome
• Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Dave Herman
• Edson Barboza vs. Rafaello Oliveira
PRELIMINARY (7 p.m. ET)
• Seth Baczynski vs. Brian Melancon
• David Mitchell vs. Mike Pierce