It’s fight week, and the UFC 162 main event between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman is already the most talked-about bout of 2013, by far. Fans and media alike have gone back and forth over and again about both sides of the coin, and many of the pros asked about the winner chose Weidman. The general consensus seems to be that Chris Weidman is the most well-rounded and dangerous opponent Anderson Silva will have faced to this point, and that could result in the middleweight title finally changing hands.
But then again, Silva has been presented with many a fighter who were deemed to be his toughest challenge ever. I’ve heard a lot of people, including Weidman himself, repeatedly cite Silva’s one-sided near loss against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 as a testament to wrestling being ‘The Spider’s’ kryptonite. While Sonnen had great success with his ground-and-pound that night, he ultimately succumbed to a late triangle choke, joining the illustrious club of wrestlers who took Anderson Silva down only to be finished (Dan Henderson and Travis Lutter being the other two).
Sonnen also failed the post-fight drug test with T:E ratios of nearly 17-to-1 of a normal man. I think that he put in a very valiant effort and nearly ground out a title-clinching win, but an influx of testosterone that high has to give you a big advantage. I know that Silva said he had a broken rib, but injured or not, it’s going to be tough to deal with the takedowns of a world-class wrestler that strong.
But Weidman isn’t Sonnen. He may have better MMA wrestling, and he definitely has better submission skills and defense. Weidman truly has the game to give any middleweight in the UFC fits. I also doubt he’ll risk the biggest opportunity of his life to have an advantage in the T:E department. He is already a huge middleweight who maintains a good strength and size advantage on his opponents come fight time. These are all important factors this weekend, and they are legitimate reasons for many to pick Weidman to shock the world. I can’t deny that. However, there are also some other factors to consider when gauging the bout, and they are factors that don’t favor Weidman so strongly. First, he is coming off a yearlong layoff due to shoulder surgery. I would think that it’s a tough prospect facing any top ten fighter in the UFC after that hiatus, let alone the greatest of all time.
Second, Weidman just hasn’t faced too much top competition. I know Mark Munoz was supposedly healed from his own injuries prior to his brutal loss to Weidman, but we all saw what Munoz went through after that bout. While he’s back in shape to face Tim Boestch, I refuse to believe that we saw even close to the best Mark Munoz that night. He was taken down so easily for a former Oklahoma State wrestling standout. And true, Weidman did beat former title challenger Demian Maia on short notice, but that was before made a return to his BJJ roots and a drop down to welterweight.
Last but not least, Weidman’s very supportive head coach Matt Serra will not be able to corner Weidman at UFC 162 due to complications involving blood clots. While this may not have an effect on the performance of the seemingly mentally tough Weidman, it could end up being adverse. Serra is the man who got Weidman his start, the guy who first believed that the young prospect could be champion.
I can’t deny that Weidman brings a unique skillset to the Octagon, coupled with a mental mindset that seems to just refuse to lose. He hasn’t been beaten yet, so I think he may genuinely have a lot less fear that some of Silva’s previous opponents. However, I also think that there are some detractors for Weidman that people are talking about a lot less than how his wrestling will finally be the skillset to take Silva down.
Is Weidman perhaps overconfident? He has done countless interviews describing his perceived victory over Silva, and he’s dissected that win from many points of his own personal view. Ring rust may or may not be a factor, and Weidman may be good enough on the ground to out-grapple Silva. Ultimately, I think just about everything that could be discussed about this fight has been brought up by now, and we will just have to wait and see what transpires this weekend. I just don’t think it’s Chris Weidman’s time to be champion quite yet. Do you?