There’s really no precedent for what Chris Weidman is about to try to do. Sort of.
Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) next week is tasked with trying to be the first fighter to take out Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC) in the UFC. When the only blueprint for getting your hand raised against Silva for the past eight or so years is to hope he does something to get disqualified (see Yushin Okami, 2006), any fighter has a tall order.
Weidman challenges Silva for the middleweight title in the main event of UFC 162, which takes place July 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view after prelims on FX and Facebook.
But there is that little matter of Silva’s two fights against Chael Sonnen. In the first, at UFC 117 in August 2010, Sonnen dominated Silva through four rounds and into the fifth before finally being caught with an armbar and triangle choke. In their rematch a year ago next weekend in Vegas, Sonnen again found success right out of the gate, but was stopped with a second-round TKO.
Don’t think Weidman isn’t thinking about those two fights – while also realizing he might just have other tricks up his sleeve that Sonnen didn’t have.
“The obvious answer is the takedowns and trying to expose him with the wrestling,” Weidman said earlier this week during a media conference call for UFC 162. “But we’re totally different fighters. I believed I could beat him before that fight, but (Silva) stays relaxed and if you’re tense and he’s relaxed, eventually he’s going to be able to get off what he wants. So I think the main thing I learned from that is that I thought Chael was a little bit too uptight and tense when he got the takedown, and I think it paid off for Anderson to stay relaxed the entire fight because he was able to have the energy to knock that out in the fifth round. And all props to Anderson on that.”
The unbeaten Weidman will be fighting for the first time since a win in July 2012 against Mark Munoz – a vicious second-round TKO. That set up a fight against Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 in December. But a Weidman injury knocked him out of that fight. After Silva took a little downtime after a non-title fight against Stephan Bonnar in October, and superfights against Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones were discussed, once he was ready to get back in the cage to defend his title, Weidman was healthy and ready.
He was just hoping they were ready sooner – like after he blasted through Munoz. Weidman thought that would be enough. Instead, it wasn’t and he was booked for the Boetsch fight that never happened. But now, he said, that’s pretty much water under the bridge.
“After the (Munoz) fight, it was frustrating to hear that they weren’t interested in me,” he said. “But it is what it is. I guess when the UFC decided to make the fight happen, it happened. And, everything happens for a reason. God had a plan, and it worked out. I’m real excited for the fight, so I’m not really thinking back into the past and worrying about how frustrated I was. I kind of gave up on that, and then things worked out well – so I’m happy.”
Along with knowing his wrestling pedigree could pose Silva some problems the same way Sonnen was able to do, Weidman also has been preparing for one of the most legendary strikers in the sport’s history.
To do so, he brought in UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson to help emulate Silva’s unique style on the feet.
“We brought in a couple of different guys for the first time in my career,” Weidman said. “I’d say the main guy that did a great job emulating him with the standup as best he could was ‘Wonderboy.’ I’m kind of just getting used to quicker guys, even though he’s a little smaller. He has unorthodox striking and it was, definitely good preparation for this fight.”
But where Weidman might give himself the biggest advantage of all next Saturday is in the mental game. He believes most of Silva’s opponents have lost even before the octagon door closes.
That won’t be the case with him, even though he’ll be fighting, in essence, one of his heroes.
“I think he definitely obviously has a strong mental game,” Weidmand said. “I think a lot of the guys he kind of beats before they walk out there. … Guys go in there and some of them are unsure about themselves. So I think his performances kind of speak for themselves and kind of draw into the minds of the guys that are going to walk into the cage with him if you’re not mentally prepared and truly have confidence in yourself. So I think the main thing is to have confidence and the best guy is going to win. I’m not really going to let it mess with me at all.”
For more on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.