Chris Weidman has grabbed all the headlines leading up to his bout to take Anderson Silva’s UFC middle weight title on Saturday at UFC 162. People have become enamored with the former LI wrestling star, believing that he is the chosen one to finally end Silva’s never ending reign atop the UFC rankings. Because of the popularity of Weidman as an upset pick, and the success of lightweight Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, at 38 years old, once again has to prove that he is the best fighter in the UFC.
Heading into this fight, Anderson Silva has decimated the record for consecutive title defenses. Retaining his title ten straight times, UFC CEO Dana White has called the middleweight champion “the greatest mixed martial artist ever.” Entering his fight with Chris Weidman, Silva is riding as high as possible in the MMA world on a 16 fight win streak. The fact that Anderson Silva has to prove he is the best in the UFC world is shocking given that resume. Weidman has only nine victories in his career, hardly more than half of Silva’s win streak alone.
Anderson Silva has been facing elite opponents since he entered the UFC in 2006. After defeating Chris Leben effortlessly in the first round, Silva was voted a title shot against then champion Rich Franklin. Franklin also fell victim to a knockout in the first round, and he has been champion for the past seven years. With names like Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and Vitor Belfort on his resume, Silva has far more experience against the world’s elite fighters than Weidman. Yet the world is making Anderson Silva prove to them he is the best of the best in the UFC once again.
No other fighter in the sport has the ability to play to his opponents strengths and beat them at their own game like Anderson Silva can. Joe Rogan will often spell out the type of fight that Silva’s opponent will have to fight in order to have a chance against the middleweight champion. Silva will then do exactly that, and prove that his well rounded game is better than anyone else’s in the UFC. He has defeated wrestlers like Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson via submission on the ground, and also knocked out Vitor Belfort and countless other strikers while standing up. Silva famously put his hands down against Forrest Griffin and dared him to punch him, Griffin could not, and was quickly put out of his misery.
Why then would many fighters in the UFC say that this is a bad match up for Silva? Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre said “I believe it’s a bad matchup for Anderson Silva. Very bad. Not only is Weidman going to beat him, I believe he’s going to finish Anderson Silva.” Perhaps Georges St. Pierre is simply hoping that Silva doesn’t win. A win against Weidman is rumored to set up the long anticipated superfight between Silva and GSP, a fight which would leave little to no doubt that Silva is the UFC’s best fighter.
Many like to site the knockout and submission abilities that Weidman has when on top in the ground game as the reason he will finally be the one to walk away with Silva’s belt. However Silva has survived just about every discipline in the sport, and now has a new 10 fight contract. A contract of that length at his age can only mean one thing, that Silva intends to cement his legacy as the UFC’s greatest ever fighter. With motivation and momentum on his side, Silva will once again prove he is the best fighter to ever step inside of a UFC octagon on Saturday.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express