History in the making: Chris Weidman outworks Alessio Sakara to win his UFC debut on Versus


"His biggest weakness is probably his wrestling, if I had to guess. I know he's a black belt in jiu-jitsu and a former professional boxer, but I feel very confident in this fight." --Chris Weidman, 24 hours before making his UFC debut against Alessio Sakara.

On July 6, 2013, undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight number one contender, Chris Weidman, will go to the head of the class and challenge longtime division kingpin Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 162: "Silva vs. Weidman," which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When first announced, the general consensus was, "too soon."

The "All American" has just five fights inside the Octagon, but is fortunate enough to hold two over fighters who at the time, were ranked in the middleweight top 10. True, he turned in a putrid performance against former 185-pound number one contender Demian Maia thanks to a two-week fight camp, but his rise to the top was expedited by the shortcomings of some of his colleagues.

Namely, Michael Bisping.

"The Count" was unable to win his fight against Vitor Belfort earlier this year -- the second time he's faltered in his quest to secure a date with Silva -- leaving few options outside the previously demolished "Phenom" when it came to digging up potential title challengers.

To his credit, "The Spider" has cleaned out his weight class with relative ease.

But in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), you're only as good as your last performance, and Weidman looked like he could beat any fighter in the world when he dismantled Mark Munoz last July. "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" was one of the top contenders at 185 pounds, but the former Ring of Combat (ROC) middleweight champion ran through him like a guy they pulled out of the stands on short notice.

It was a far cry from his Octagon debut just over two years ago.

In fact, Weidman lost the opening round of his coming out party at UFC on Versus 3, where he was tasked with turning away Italian boxer and longtime UFC veteran Alessio Sakara. They met on the televised main card back on March 3, 2011 from the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Just like the Maia fight, his bout against Sakara was accepted on short notice.

The Division I wrestling phenom out of Hostra -- good enough to beat Ryan Bader and Phil Davis on the collegiate circuit -- failed on all three of his first-round takedown attempts. He was the busier striker, but "Legionarius" was able to land more significant strikes.

Weidman needed to make some adjustments and win the next two rounds.

With UFC veteran and former welterweight champion Matt Serra in his ear, the "All American" came out with renewed vigor in the second and third frames, going five-for-five in takedown attempts and outstriking the bearded pugilist by a whopping 84-22.

Bruce Buffer's announcement, by that point, was nothing more than a formality.

Weidman would win his next four -- with three finishes -- and put himself in position to do what 16 other men couldn't, and that's defeat Anderson Silva, widely considered to be the greatest MMA fighter of all time. A pretty tall order for a guy who just over two years ago, was auditioning for a spot on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).

Good thing he's not suffering from a lack of confidence.

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