Don’t Underestimate the Champ
Earlier this year, Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva. Before you comment on Silva’s antics, before you mention lucky punches, before you talk about “mental game” not being what it should be… let that fact sink in real good. Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva.
When discussing the fight in UFC 162 that left Weidman the new middleweight champion of the UFC, a lot of people talk about Anderson Silva losing as if it was purely a fluke, or even worse, his own doing. A large number of people seem to completely dismiss the fact that Weidman was even in the octagon when Silva hit the floor. Even the former champ and current GOAT himself has said that the only reason he lost to Weidman was that his mind wasn’t where it should be during the fight. And, upon first glance, that might be true. Yes, Silva was provoking Weidman in a somewhat arrogant fashion, and it was during the more obnoxious moments of that taunting that Weidman connected with his already pretending-to-be-hurt face. However, that taunting wasn’t some fatal immature lapse of good judgment or ham-fisted miscalculation. Silva, a well-known counter puncher, does this to lure almost all of his opponents into trying to knock him out (with the possible of exception of Vitor Belfort, with whom Anderson waited uncharacteristically patiently). The thing is, up until now, none of them could knock Silva out. No one could even get close. That’s where the skill of Chris Weidman comes in.
As it stands now, Chris Weidman has a 10 – 0 record fight record, going 6 – 0 in the UFC. For the most part, Weidman is known for his wrestling. The All-American one time Olympic hopeful has been described by Georges St. Pierre as “on another level” for a pretty good reason. Weidman has take down timing. He doesn’t simply bum rush his opponents, hoping to unbalance them like so many other would-be submission artists. Weidman shoots knowing how and where his opponent will hit the canvas, and where he will be in relation. After that, it’s all about capitalizing on position for the kid.
However, you can’t ignore Weidman’s knockout power either. In the fight that qualified him for a shot at the belt, it was one good elbow and a couple good fists to Mark Munoz’s face that won Weidman the UFC’s knockout of the night bonus.
It was this combination of timing, patience, and knockout power on the part of Weidman that defeated Silva the first time, not some happy accident. It’s also this perfect storm of talents that will be the reason that UFC 168 might be a repeat of what we saw before. There’s no doubt that Anderson Silva will enter the octagon with a fresh perspective on what he’s up against. After all, he is up against the champ this time. Maybe this time he will be a bit more serious and play around a bit less. But, even with a fully focused Silva, Weidman still stands a good chance of winning again. He is the champ for a reason, after all.
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Main Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports