UFC 162 - Silva vs. Weidman
Chris Weidman (9-0, 3 KO's, 3 Subs)
Chris Weidman has been fighting for all of three years in the UFC but his pedigree suggests this 28-year-old is no newcomer to combat sports. He is a former Division 1 All-American wrestler, ring of Combat Middleweight champion and the US Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion as a purple belt.
In other words, the boy's got skillz. But let's take a look at what he's done recently in the UFC. Some may peruse his record and take issue with the announced "split decision" win over world class jiu-jitsu practitioner Demian Maia in January of 2012. Let's dispense with fiction and understand that it was in fact a unanimous decision victory (as clarified by Dana White) and what makes it even more impressive is that Weidman took the fight on short notice, having to cut 32 pounds in ten days to make weight.
But it was his next, and most recent, fight that punched his ticket to the main event at UFC 162. Weidman dominated another former Division 1 All-American wrestler in Mark Munoz. Weidman had his way from the opening bell and once Munoz realized he would have no success on the mat, he stood and got blasted by a vicious straight elbow to the forehead. That, as they say, was that with Weidman's hand raised triumphantly while Munoz took an involuntary nap in front of thousands at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
In short, in an elite organization dominated by world-class mat masters of all shapes and sizes, Chris Weidman may in fact be the kingpin at this very moment. There appears to be nobody capable of taking him to the ground with routine efficiency. Nobody, and that means you Anderson Silva. Did I just say that?
Anderson Silva (33-4, 20 KO's, 6 Subs)
If you're reading this fight preview, you probably know all about the legendary Anderson Silva. The man has been deified throughout the world of MMA and is the goodwill ambassador of Dana White's organization. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said. Silva will go down as one of the most lethal stand-up tacticians ever to grace the cage. He morphs effortlessly from an orthodox puncher to a southpaw striker, seamlessly blending a vicious brand of Muay Thai into his arsenal of weapons.
Silva's closest brush with defeat in recent years occurred at UFC 117 when he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a last minute armbar of Chael Sonnen. Only the most ardent (and delusional) Silva fan would have given him any chance to win a decision in that fight. However, since then he soundly TKO'ed Sonnen in a rematch while dispensing of Vitor Belfort, Yushin Okami, and Stephan Bonnar in similar, violent fashion.
There is no quibbling with Silva's record nor his place in UFC lore. He is a one-man wrecking machine and takes no prisoners inside the Octagon. However, there is the question of age. Silva will be 38-years old when UFC 162 gets underway this coming July. When a man is fighting as well as Silva, it is easy to dismiss age as a factor. But fighters have a peculiar way of becoming old in the blink of an eye, or the flick of a jab, or the break of a bone. There's nothing to suggest Silva will get old at UFC 162 except the clock on the wall.
I guess you can bet Silva blindly, lay the heavy lumber and wait at the ticket window to collect your winnings. But I'm looking at Silva/Sonnen 1 and I see this as a similar matchup in our UFC betting odds preview. Sonnen is a world class wrestler and gave Silva fits the first time around. But Sonnen is a renegade and he will lay it all out without regard to strategy or tactics. A wrestler of his caliber should not have been submitted eight times but that speaks to a lack of discipline.
I see Chris Weidman as a younger and improved version of Chael Sonnen. He has the perspicacity to stick to his game plan and not lose focus. Silva's flawless technique and superior striking skills may ultimately win the day. However, Weidman is the kind of fighter that can make you feel old in a hurry. A new day is dawning. It's the end of an era. Think about that when making your UFC 162 Picks.