Chris Weidman isn’t short on confidence, that’s for certain.
And going against the man regarded nearly universally as the best fighter in history, he can’t afford to be.
Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in July challenges Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC) for Silva’s middleweight title in the main event of UFC 162, which takes place July 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
This past week, during a question-and-answer session for UFC Fight Club fans prior to the weigh-ins for UFC 159 in Newark, N.J., Weidman said the title fight with Silva is one he’s been preparing for since he first started in MMA.
“When I started MMA four years ago, I had to believe I could beat the champion of the world or there’s no reason for me to do this,” Weidman said. “Coming up in Ring of Combat, I wasn’t only training for those guys – I was training for Anderson Silva.”
Silva, who has yet to be defeated in the UFC and holds all the promotion’s consecutive win and consecutive title defense marks, is a 3-to-1 favorite in the fight.
But Weidman, who was a standout wrestler at Hofstra University, believes he may have the perfect formula to become the man to unseat Silva – something that wasn’t able to be done by Chael Sonnen (twice), Vitor Belfort, Demian Maia and a host of others.
Weidman said seeing Sonnen’s formula at UFC 117 gave him some clues when he scored takedowns in every round, but ultimately was caught by an armbar-triangle choke midway through the fifth round. In their rematch, Sonnen again had success getting Silva to the ground in the first round, but then lost by TKO in the second.
“I’ve seen what Chael has done to him,” Weidman said. “I’ve seen his weaknesses, and I think I can expose him again and look for a finish or a good performance. You’ve just got be confident. You can say anything you want before the fight, but it’s all about when you touch those gloves, do you still have the confidence? I’m going to make sure I do.”
Weidman said that confidence is going to make all the difference for him. He believes Silva gets inside his opponents’ heads before the fight even starts thanks to his mystique.
Weidman is determined to not let that happen to him.
“I think the best thing that Anderson Silva does is mentally destroy people before they even get in the cage with him,” he said. “And then once you get in the cage with him, he does a great job of making you feel like, ‘You do not belong in the cage with me. You’re terrible. I’m the man. You’re going to find a way out of this fight.’ I think the biggest thing is that I’m very confident. I know my skill set.”
And that skill set, Weidman said, is not just his wrestling – but his jiu-jitsu. Silva is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. But Weidman is trained by a black belt, himself – former UFC champion Matt Serra.
“On paper, I’m a nightmare matchup for Anderson,” Weidman said. “On paper you can’t deny it. I definitely have better wrestling, and I believe I’ve proven I have better jiu-jitsu. I think I have the cardio and the athleticism. I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s siding with me in this fight.”
And despite still being a decently sized underdog, Weidman may have at least the oddsmakers agreeing with him. Not since Silva fought Dan Henderson at UFC 82 has an opponent opened as a closer test.
For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.