Weidman-Silva II Preview
July 6, 2016. It is a date no mixed martial fan will ever forget, as it was the night they witnessed the impossible become a reality.
With a powerful left hook halfway through the second round of the main event of UFC 162, Chris Weidman, not only knocked out UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva but also ended the most dominant title run in UFC history.
Silva entered their bout riding 17 fight-winning streak, dating back to 2006, which included a UFC title reign that lasted a company record six years, eight months and 22 days. But what’s even more amazing is that during his reign as the 185-pound champion, all but two of Silva’s wins came by way TKO, KO or submission. “The Spider’ was truly the definition of perfection as he was not only considered the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet but also the greatest mixed martial artist who ever lived.
So with only nine professional fights under his belt, 28 less than Silva, the Long Island native was considered the heavy underdog. After all, Silva had been champion for five years before Weidman even made his UFC debut. But Weidman shocked the world and walked away with the belt.
Now five months later, the most anticipated rematch in the history of the UFC has arrived. With a record number of pay-per-view buys and the highest gate in company history projected for the end of the year fight card, no fight fan will want to miss this historic night.
In their initial meeting Weidman became the first fighter to earn a knockout victory over Silva. Originally considered just a powerful wrestler, Weidman emerged as a more than capable striker when he became one of nine fighters to earn a knockout from a standing elbow when he finished Mark Muñoz at UFC on FUEL TV 4. Having never been out struck in his UFC career, and possessing a striking defensive rate of 65.9-percent, don’t look for the champion to back down from the more experienced Silva.
But while Weidman may have earned the knockout victory at UFC 162, it was Silva who was winning the stand up battle before his lights were turned off as he landed 63-percent of his total strikes with a significant striking rate of 58-percent. Don’t expect much to change, as Silva will most certainly look to keep the fight standing and utilize his masterful Muy Thai attack.
Currently holding an accuracy rating of 67.5-percent, the highest in UFC history, Silva has never landed lower than 50-percent of his significant attempts inside a UFC octagon. Combine this 17 career knockdowns with seven of those coming from the clinch, both UFC records, and Silva has shown that even when his opponents close distance he is still a threat to land a knockout from any angle.
The most lopsided matchup between these two as Weidman, a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler at Hofstra University, has one of the most polished wrestling attacks in the entire 185-pound division. Landing an incredible 4.21 takedowns per fight, the most amongst active middleweights and third highest in the division’s history, with a success rate of 66.7-percent, fourth highest UFC history, Weidman has proven he has almost no problem taking the fight to the canvas whenever he wants. In fact, he’s managed to secure at least one takedown against all six of his opponents, including his last fight against Silva, and controlled his opponents’ position for 43-percent of his total cage time, the fourth largest proportion in middleweight history.
While there is almost no threat of Silva attempting a takedown, he has a career average of 0.30 attempts prefight, he has defended 78.9-percent of his opponents’ attempts at middleweight, the fifth highest rate in the division’s history. However he was taken down down early in the first round of his last fight against Weidman so the edge clearly goes to the champion
A very difficult matchup to give an edge to as both men have received black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from some of the most highly regarded teachers in MMA today. Silva, who received his belt from the legendary Noguiera brothers, did not attempt a single submission in his first meeting with Weidman but did show impressive submission defense as he escaped a heel hook late in the first round. With two of his three submission victories coming while he worked off his back, including his famous triangle choke against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, Silva has shown he prefers to use his jiu-jitsu as a defensive tool in order get back to his feet and attack his opponents with his powerful kicks.
But Weidman, who received his belt from former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and the legendary Renzo Gracie, has two submission victories in his young career including a memorable standing guillotine against Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 131. While he did fail to lock on a submission on two occasions in their initial meeting, simply attempting one on a fighter of Silva’s caliber proves that avoiding Weidman’s ground-and-pound does not mean his opponent is safe being finished. So with that being said, each fighter has the tools to cancel out the other’s submission skills making this matchup impossible to choose.
There are three possible outcomes in this fight:
1. Weidman wins and proves his first win over Silva was no fluke and the middleweight division moves on from the Anderson Silva era.
2. Silva wins and the trilogy fight becomes the biggest fight in UFC history while Vitor Belfort blows up UFC president Dana White’s phone with a barrage of angry text messages.
3. Fans are treated to a terrible and controversial decision and White puts a curse on the Nevada State Athletics Commission and vows never to return to Nevada ever again.
Fingers crossed number three doesn’t happen but with the after-fight between Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks, nothing is out of the question.
But with that being said, I can’t even begin to explain how difficult it is to predict a winner in this bout. It is very hard to pick against the champion in any fight but when his opponent is the greatest fighter who ever lived it opens up a floodgate of questions. I’d like to think Silva has corrected all the mistakes he made back in July but my gut says Weidman is simply the more well-rounded fighter and Silva just cannot compete with this new breed of fighters.
I may be taking a severe risk but I honestly believe Silva will return with a vengeance and reclaim his belt, thus setting up the most anticipated rubber match in combat sports history.
Silva via Round 3 TKO
Here are the rest of my predictions for the main card and preliminary bouts:
· Ronda Rousey def. Miesha Tate
· Travis Browne def. Josh Barnett
· Jim Miller def. Fabrício Camões
· Dustin Poirier def. Diego Brandao
· Chris Leben def. Uriah Hall
· Gleison Tibau def. Michael Johnson
· Dennis Siver def. Manvel Gamburyan
· Siyar Bahadurzada def. Josh Howard
· William Macario def. Bobby Voelker
· Robbie Peralta def. Estevan Payan