UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman shocked the world when he knocked out Anderson Silva at UFC 162, an opponent long thought to be invincible. Part of the overall shock was due to the fact that Weidman won the fight in the one area that most predicted Silva to dominate: the standup.
However, Weidman’s striking has progressed to a level that nearly rivals his world-class wrestling and submission skills. Much of that has to be attributed to the effort of his coach Ray Longo. Longo was the man in Weidman’s corner who famously told “The All-American” to go after Silva in between the first and second rounds at UFC 162.
With their much-anticipated rematch at UFC 168 just around the corner, Longo appeared on today’s “The MMA Hour” to discuss the fight, which is arguably the biggest bout in the history of the UFC:
“I think everybody’s excited. The first one was very exciting also. We want to put a stamp on what he did the first time and I think Chris is focused. Training camp is going excellent and we’re ready to roll. He’s ready to show everybody the first time wasn’t a fluke.”
Indeed many still think that Weidman’s victory over Silva was a fluke, putting more of the blame on “The Spider’s” antics rather than anything Weidman did. And it’s hard to argue with them. Silva has always added a bit of flair to his fights, baiting his opponents into a false sense of security by dropping his hands down and taunting them.
This time it caught up to him in a big way.
Weidman has said that he doesn’t expect anything different from the longtime former champ the second time around, and that he’s going to press forward looking for the finish regardless of what “The Spider” throws his way. Longo touched on the training for the rematch:
“We kind of kept it similar. We brought in a boxer from upstate who was really good, fast hands, southpaw, you know, 185. We kinda kept the same guys but added some guys. Listen, he’s ready to go tomorrow. I wish the fight was Saturday. His weight is perfect. He’s been an animal in the gym. His sparring is perfect. Everything is point on; we’re looking for a great fight. I think we’re looking at a submission this time. Whatever he feels like doing, I think he can take this fight anywhere he wants to.”
Longo is supremely confident in his young champion’s skills, and for good reason. The undefeated Weidman has been a bulldozer in MMA and just knocked off most people’s consensus G.O.A.T.
But there will always be that lingering doubt about the outcome if Silva were to ditch the antics. Longo isn’t scared of that potential, predicting Silva would do the same thing he’s always done:
“I think he’ll start off a little differently then he’ll revert back to what he always does. I think it’s woven into the fabric of who Anderson Silva is. That's what he does. I mean, just watch his fights, there’s not a fight where he didn’t mug a guy. That’s just who he is, that would be the hardest thing to change. The Octagon doesn’t lie, it parallels life. “
Longo makes some good points and has a solid overall belief in his student. Meanwhile Silva insists “he’s back.” A motivated “Spider” is nigh indestructible, but even the greatest lose their edge eventually. The result of this highly anticipated rematch is up in the air right now. Weidman may indeed be Silva’s kryptonite and put him away for a second time. Or the former champ could show up with a new lease on fighting and add another highlight reel knockout to his resume.
What is your prediction for the blockbuster? Do you agree with Longo or Silva?