UFC 162 was a night few mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will never forget.
On that hot summer night back in July, Chris Weidman dethroned long-time Middleweight champion and all-time legendary fighter, Anderson Silva, in one of the least predictable outcomes anyone could have imagined. After taking down the champion in the first round and roughing him up a bit before attempting a kneebar, Weidman put away Silva in the second round with the last punch of a brilliant combination, finally putting a stop to the former champion's incredible win streak that spanned seven years and included 11 Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fights.
The loss could be attributed to several things, but what stuck out most to the MMA community was Silva taking his usual level of clowning to a whole new level against Weidman. Silva never quite enforced his striking game, but instead chose to taunt Weidman in an effort to make him come forward with strikes.
What people have to realize is that for a long time, Silva's "clowning" has been a huge component of his game. His antics in the cage are not simply to create a spectacle, but to bait opponents into coming forward how and when he wants them to, creating the easiest route to counter strike them into oblivion. The reason his taunts became so frantic and frenzied was not because he respected Weidman any less, but because he couldn't get "All American" to play his game.
This of course set him up for the finish we know all too well, when Weidman expertly set him up for a big punch Silva was unable to avoid.
The thing that went wrong in Silva's performance was that Weidman refused to play into his hands. And unlike Demian Maia -- who did something similar and elicited a similar response -- Weidman was able to capitalize on it because of his more competent striking game.
So how is Silva supposed to beat Weidman if he already knows what his go-to plan of attack? By going back to the style that got him the 185-pound strap in the first place.
If you were an MMA fan when Silva first burst onto the UFC scene, you probably remember his brutally violent displays over Chris Leben and Rich Franklin, which is the kind of approach Silva will need if he wants to beat Weidman in their rematch later tonight (Sat., Dec. 28, 2013) in the main even of UFC 168, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That's because Weidman won't readily play into his hands; therefore, Silva has to push forward and bring the fight to Weidman with flurries of high-volume striking with bad intentions.
Of course, that isn't the only area that Silva will need to be conscious of to win this fight. Because of Weidman's dangerous grappling game, Silva will have to be ready to stop takedowns and continue to enforce his striking game because the Serra-Longo-trained fighter will not be easily warded off regardless of how well "The Spider" tries to defend against his attacks.
If Silva believes he can defeat Weidman by baiting him into his counters, he's sadly mistaken. Weidman is the kind of fighter with supreme confidence in himself that will not allow Silva to get into his head, making him Silva's toughest opponent in his storied career. Silva will have to come into this fight in his best shape and with his strongest mindset if he is to win, going about this fight the right way if he wants a winning chance. Silva might not win this fight in the same fashion as many of his recent title defenses, so his approach later this evening will need to be drastically different from what we've seen of him in recent years.
If Anderson Silva wants to win this fight, and if he is truly "back," he has to be ready to be offensive against Weidman and really press the issue straight out of the gate. If not, he risks two losses to the current champ, which means an infinitely more difficult road back to the title ... if he does intend to one day reclaim it before calling it a career.