Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
A lot is on the line in this fight, not just the middleweight belt. Silva’s reputation and future could rest in this single bout, along with much of his fan base. After his disreputable performance against Weidman that resulted in the long-time champion unconscious on the mat, fans were quick to criticize Silva and accuse him of underestimating Chris Weidman. Now, he gets a chance to redeem himself and make things right; or, he could further damage his reputation. Before the Weidman loss, Anderson Silva was a freak-of-nature that seemed unbeatable, but there was something about Weidman that made very few of us believe he could be the one to dethrone “The Spider”. When it happened, the whole Internet came crashing down ontop of Silva, but behind Weidman. Silva was turned into the bad guy, and his reputation took a nasty hit.
Now that we all know he’s human, this rematch becomes a whole lot more interesting. There are a countless number of questions surrounding both Silva’s and Weidman’s approach towards this fight. Will Silva keep his hands up and not taunt? Will Weidman try to spend more time on the ground? Will we see more of Silva’s blackbelt level BJJ? All of these questions are dying to be answered, and they will – tonight.
In the first bout, Weidman displayed a remarkable amount of confidence and assurance in himself on the feet. Silva is easily one of the greatest strikers in MMA, but Weidman didn’t really give him a chance to show it. If you watch the fight closely; Anderson is trying to get Weidman to move where he wants him to go, but Weidman isn’t having any of it and pushes forward regardless. This is frustrating Silva, so his natural instincts are to taunt and hopefully make Weidman charge him. The mature Chris Weidman refrains from that, and he’ll have to tonight as well. Silva’s mind games are one of his most efficient tools, but all it takes is a strong mind and whelping of confidence to overcome it.
It could be said that Silva didn’t do as much on the feet in the first bout as he could have, and I believe that. Silva usually spends the first round dancing around, judging distance and calculating his opponents speed. Weidman has the tool to disrupt this though, and that’s his takedown. By taking Anderson down right away, he rids him of the needed time to get comfortable; instead, it’s Weidman who is getting more comfortable. Big powerful punches from the top will sway momentum towards Weidman, and give him even more confidence. Add his submission attempts in, and you have nothing but pray in a cage with a lion.
Silva showed some solid defense against Chael Sonnen, but Chris Weidman is another animal. Weidman is stronger, longer, and way better at defending/recognizing submissions attempts. Look for Weidman to dominate the fight if he can get in top position. If Silva wants to get anything out of being on the bottom, he should look to use elbows. Weidman isn’t immune to cuts, and neither is Silva, but if Silva can gash Weidman up from the bottom using his elbows, it’ll make Chris think twice about taking him down again and could very well force Weidman into rushing his pace in fear of a doctor stoppage.
Of course, Silva’s biggest weapons are on the feet. His sneaky leg kicks and vicious straight punches catch his opponents off guard and with such deceptive force that they often don’t know what hit them until they’re on the ground. If you’re an Anderson Silva fan, you’re probably hoping for him to return to his Muay Thai attack with the knees, but I wouldn’t expect that to return in this bout. Weidman is a powerful force in the clinch and can easily overpower Silva, even if he’s in a Thai plum. Silva’s best strategy on the feet would be to chop away at Weidman with kicks, and play the distance game. Weidman isn’t a better striker than Silva, but he does have the advantage. It doesn’t really make sense, but Weidman has the element of surprise in this bout; he showed that he can knock Anderson out if he gives him the chance, but he also showed he could do damage on the ground. If I were Anderson, I wouldn’t know what Weidman is planning to do.
With this advantage, it’s going to be very hard for Anderson to commit to anything. Silva is an extremely technical fighter, and not one to really bite down on his mouthpiece and throw; he calculates everything and doesn’t attack unless he’s sure of himself, but assurance one thing he will not find in this fight. The pressure is stacked ontop of Silva’s shoulders, and Weidman has nothing but confidence and support. Weidman has more tools in this match-up, more versatility, and still remains to be a durable fighter. Silva has the chance to out-class Weidman, but Chris is the man with the advantage.
I’m predicting a submission win here for Chris Weidman. I believe he’ll keep Silva frustrated on the feet by giving him different looks. Silva doesn’t throw anything powerful unless he’s 100% sure it’ll land so the fact that Weidman’s approach in this fight is still a mystery leads me to believe Silva will off of his game. Then the takedowns will come, and that’s when things really start getting nasty for Silva. Heavy punches and resilient submission defense will lead Weidman into a position to choke out Silva in the second round, and silence all the doubters.