Posted 07/03/2013 by admin in UFC

Kenny Florian: Chris Weidman will pull off a victory over Anderson Silva

By Jon Lane, July 3rd, 2013

Sun Tzu said, “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”

More than his majestic striking, deadly Muay Thai and the dissection of his opponents on the ground, intimidation is perhaps Anderson Silva’s greatest attribute. Many of the Spider’s opponents have said the right things leading up to Fight Night. All 16 who have faced Silva in a UFC Octagon have tasted defeat, many times occurring before the opening horn. In the heat of battle, Silva is so good he’s content to sit back and dance and clown around until striking at the precise time, and there’s nothing one can do about it.

Chris Weidman insists he’s different. A psychology major and a two-time All-American at Hofstra University, Weidman has spent much of his 29 years studying the mental side of competition. Like those before him, Weidman has said all the right things leading into the main event of UFC 162 Saturday night in Las Vegas, but there are many who actually believe him and have pegged “The All-American” to hand Silva his first defeat (excluding a 2006 DQ loss) since 2004.

You can count Kenny Florian among the believers. A former UFC top contender at lightweight and featherweight, and current co-host of UFC Tonight, Florian views Weidman as a bigger, stronger, younger and harder-hitting version of Chael Sonnen, who three summers ago dominated Silva for four-and-a-half rounds and nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.

Mentally, Weidman is entering Saturday night knowing he can and will win. Weidman, like Sonnen, is an Olympic-caliber wrestler, which Sonnen proved is the kryptonite to Silva’s Superman-level abilities. Even though Sonnen twice came up short against Silva, his belief system was supreme, where Weidman’s may actually be higher.

“You can’t go out there with the mentality that you’re going to go out there and try to survive against Anderson Silva,” Florian said. “If that’s the case, Chris is in a lot of trouble. But to me ,Chris is a guy who believes in himself. He knows what to expect out there against Anderson and he’s ready for anything and everything. You could see it. You can see the way he prepares, the way he trains and the way he fights. He has a style that can really pose a lot of problems for Anderson and I think he’s going to be able to pull it off.”

Oddsmakers have made Weidman the shortest underdog to face Silva since Dan Henderson in 2008. The UFC polled a collection of current and former fighters on who they believed would walk out of the MGM Grand as middleweight champion. The majority have Weidman ending Silva’s seven-year run as the king of the 185-pound division. The All-American enters the contest undefeated in nine MMA fights, his last a brutal second-round knockout of Mark Munoz last summer.

Sonnen was able to immediately neutralize Silva’s attack by bull-rushing him and continually taking him to the ground. Weidman needs to do the same: get in his face, back him up and take him down in the center of the cage and keep the champion on his back. Easier said than done, considering that Silva has made his victims look silly in recent fights. That includes Sonnen, who after following the blueprint set in the first fight lost his balance in the second round after an ill-advised spinning back fist led to a TKO defeat.

“He’s going to have to get respect from Anderson Silva,” Florian said. “The longer you allow Anderson Silva to stay on his feet, the more dangerous he becomes. He’s isn’t just this guy who goes out and explodes for no reason. He’s an assassin. What assassins do is they read you, they see how you move and what vulnerabilities you have. They make those calculations and then they get you when you least expect it.”

Silva’s MMA record may stand at 33-4, but he’s also 38 years old. And while he’s continually defied Father Time, there is the increasing possibility that Silva’s reaction time will be a split-second slower Saturday night, which could open the door for the explosive Weidman to do something special.

“For a fighter, a lot of times you find out how old you are on Fight Night,” Florian said. “In training it’s kind of hard to find out. Eventually, yes, you get a little bit more sore and it takes a little bit more time to recover, but a lot of fighters find out on Fight Night that they just got old. That’s just a reality. Anderson Silva’s biggest opponent, forget about everything else, is time.”

Although Silva’s legacy is secure, it’s yet to be complete. A superfight with either UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones or welterweight title holder Georges St. Pierre are the only karats within reach should the Spider defeat Weidman on Saturday. Until then, another challenge is to avoid being bored.

“For Anderson Silva, what’s his motivation like? Being the champion it’s very difficult to keep your motivation high,” Florian said. “The fact that he’s done that for so many years is very impressive. I still think he loves the sport. I still think he has that passion to be a champion, but it’s a tough thing to keep it consistent when you’re smashing guys left and right and you’re at the top. We’ve seen champions flip in the past. I don’t think he’s looking past Chris Weidman. He knows it’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s tough to know what his motivation is like.

“It’s going to be interesting. This is one of those fights where I think either way it’s going to surprise a lot of people.”

For all the marquee main events the UFC has put together, the hype for Silva-Weidman has reached heights reserved for the Silva-Sonnen wars. The chances of Weidman unseating the champion are wholly realistic due to the skill set that nearly took Silva out on August 7, 2010, the night Silva competed with a broken rib and was hit by Sonnen 289 times (compared to 208 in his first 11 UFC fights). Weidman is younger, faster, stronger and simply better with a wrestling game capable of shutting Silva down and knockout power that could turn out his lights. For the memories it can and probably will create, the Silva-Weidman matchup lends credence to the phrase, “The Main Event.”

“We never saw Chael knock anybody out,” Florian said. “He was never a big submission guy. Chris Weidman can submit you. He gets position on guys. He’s outwrestling other good D-1 guys. These are kinds of things that are making everybody talk about this fight. And the fact that he’s undefeated. Yes he doesn’t have fights in the double digits yet, but he’s undefeated and the way that he’s doing it is extremely impressive. All these things that Weidman is doing, he’s doing it an unheard of fashion. That’s why people should be paying attention.” 


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