For a moment during their UFC 162 title fight, it looked like Chris Weidman was about to become Anderson Silva’s 17th consecutive victim inside the Octagon.
“The Spider” was slipping and weaving — like he typically does, putting on a show for the packed crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
Then, a stiff left hook found its mark, and the longest reigning champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history dropped to the canvas. Weidman followed up with a few more punches for good measure, and, moments later, the UFC’s middleweight title was strapped around his waist while Silva’s fans watched in disbelief.
For those who missed the historic moment, here’s the video of the entire fight.
Anderson wasn’t initially open to the possibility of a rematch, but that didn’t last long. A few days later, Silva’s competitive spirit was back in full force, paving the way for the highly anticipated UFC 168 fight card which will be headline by Silva vs. Weidman 2. The event is set for Dec. 28, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Given the fact Weidman was missing shots widely before the fateful left that ended Silva’s reign at UFC 162, a decent number of folks in the MMA community feel the victory was a fluke. “The All-American” looks forward to proving all his critics wrong.
“I have to beat Anderson Silva this next time,” Weidman said during a pre-fight interview. “I have to solidify my first victory, and solidify myself as a champion by winning again. That’s where my heart is at, so it’s hard to sit back and enjoy my successes… I need to win this fight for me and my family.”
Despite the fact some MMA fans feel hubris was responsible for Silva’s loss to Weidman, the Brazilian has made it clear he won’t stray away from his typical game plan — which normally involves a decent amount of ducking and weaving with both hands down.
It’s hard to fault Silva for his stance given the fact it’s his style that gives him the aura of invincibility that allowed him to dominate the UFC’s middleweight division for over seven years, mentally defeating most of opponents before stepping inside the Octagon.
However, leading up to UFC 162, Weidman clearly wasn’t intimidated by Silva’s aura, and that paid dividends inside the Octagon. Like Silva, Weidman has no plans to switch up his strategy.
“This is my game plan: I’m going to walk forward, I’m going to put pressure on him, I’m going to cut him off,” Weidman added. “If he has his hands down, I’m punching him in his face. If he has his hands up, and he’s expecting me to punch him in the face, I’m taking him down. I’m not afraid to get hit. I’m going to be walking forward with my chin down and my teeth gritted. I don’t care what he throws at me; I’m going to be there.”
Quite frankly, that seems to be the most effective strategy to use against Silva.
Chael Sonnen had a lot of success at UFC 117 with a similar game plan, dominating four and a half rounds of his title showdown against Silva. He kept pushing the pace, threw hard shots, and he kept the Brazilian grounded for the majority of their first fight — which Silva ended up winning via submission.
However, Sonnen wasn’t nearly as dominant during their UFC 148 rematch, losing via TKO in the second round.
Without a doubt, a highly-motivated Spider will show up at UFC 168, so it’ll be interesting to see if Weidman’s aggression leads him to victory or a vicious Anderson Silva counter.