Anderson Silva -- the man acclaimed by most as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all time -- will look to make his eleventh consecutive Middleweight title defense at UFC 162, which takes place this evening (Sat., July 6, 2013) at MGM Gran Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he takes on perhaps the toughest challenge of his illustrious career.
That man, Chris Weidman, has convinced a large amount of the MMA community that he has all that it takes to finally dethrone the Brazilian mastermind that is Anderson Silva. With a powerful, large frame, as well as a dynamic and ever-improving skill set to back him up, it is hard to deny that Weidman may have a much more significant chance against Silva than any other Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter ever has to date.
It is, undoubtedly, the biggest fight to happen in a long time, and it is definitely one that will pose a very interesting clash of styles. Silva's masterful, tricky style of striking will be met by a traditional wrestling base with a strong submission game to back it up.
The most important thing to know heading into this historic clash is that both of these men are incredible at what they do, but that doesn't mean they are slackers in other regards. Where Silva is known for his devastating striking attack, he still has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under the Nogueira brothers and a strong defensive wrestling game. Weidman, a former high-level collegiate wrestler, also has a dynamic submission game and some honed, powerful striking.
What makes Weidman the "Fighter to Watch" in this instance is not only that he is equipped with the skills to beat Silva, but he also has the mentality. Many times, fighters who face Silva are more like lambs led to slaughter, knowing they will be put up against the most dangerous fighter in the history of the sport. In some part, the aura and mystique that Silva carries is what has helped him to ascend to the status of a living legend, defeating most opponents before he even steps into the Octagon.
But that's not what Weidman is suggesting.
In the lead up to this fight, Weidman has made it very clear that he is not too concerned with what Silva can do, and he feels he has what it takes to make himself the new UFC middleweight champion. That mentality will surely help him against Silva, as he won't be waiting to take a fight-ending blow, but he will look to deliver his own. He will come in with an approach similar to Chael Sonnen's, staying in the face of the champion and attacking whenever opportunities present themselves.
Weidman's submission grappling and wrestling are what will carry him through this fight, and it is well known that this is where Silva has shown to be weakest. For Weidman to impose his game, he will have to push forward relentlessly to get the champion out of his comfort zone. He is a powerful, domineering grappler, and with a very high level jiu-jitsu game to back it up, he may just be too much for Silva to handle.
At UFC 162, we will see one of the greatest fighters of all time take on the toughest challenger he has ever met. Weidman is a fighter unlike anyone Silva has ever faced, but at the same time, "The Spider" is a fighter unlike anyone "All American" has faced. In the heat of the moment, Weidman will have to remain calm and work his own game if he wants his name in MMA history, something that may very well be within his reach.
It will take a lot to defeat such a great champion as Silva. The fighter who will eventually dethrone him may be the one taking him on this weekend, because Weidman has a lot going in his favor heading into this championship battle. Weidman is the first man in a long time to have a legitimate chance against Silva, which is the reason he is clearly UFC 162's "Fighter to Watch."