UFC 162: Silva vs Weidman Preview
By Mike Fagan, July 2nd, 2013
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
-Since beating Dan Henderson at UFC 82, betting markets have pegged Anderson Silva under a 3-1 favorite just twice*: against Vitor Belfort (-226) at UFC 126 and in the rematch with Chael Sonnen (-285) at UFC 148. Silva fought Belfort following the Hail Mary submission of Sonnen, which likely played a huge part in that number.
* – You could find Silva under -300 against Forrest Griffin as well, though the average line came in at -332.
So, it says something that the market, as of the Sunday before UFC 162, lists Silva at -246 as he heads into the 12th defense of his middleweight title against Chris Weidman.
In fact, bettors are giving Weidman (+194) about the same chance at beating Silva as welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (+183).
Stylistically, Weidman is the best combination of wrestler and submission grappler Silva has fought in his entire career. Despite some undeserved handwringing over Silva’s takedown defense (more on this in a second), the best path to beating Silva involves putting him on his back. Weidman averages just under 4.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. That’s better than any opponent Silva has fought in the UFC.
But Weidman also is heading into his tenth professional fight, and doing so after a 360-day layoff following a victory over Mark Munoz. He may present the best combination of skills to attack the “weakest” part of Silva’s skill set, but Weidman has also never had to deal with the combination of range, accuracy, and power that Silva presents. Nor has he headlined a PPV event, let alone one in which features him in a gargantuan title fight.
-Maybe Weidman is the real deal, and maybe he beats Silva on Saturday. But I wish he had another fight (or two) for seasoning before fighting for the title. His two best wins have come against a guy now fighting at welterweight (Demian Maia) and a guy who largely built his ranking on beating that same guy who is now fighting at welterweight (Munoz). Should Silva leave Weidman staring into the rafters, I’ll wonder if the latter wouldn’t have been better off fighting the likes of Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, or Vitor Belfort instead.
-Bloody Elbow’s T.P. Grant on Anderson Silva’s takedown defense. If numbers are more your thing, Silva has successfully defended takedowns 70% of the time over his career. Even Chael Sonnen only completed 4 takedowns in 11 attempts in their two fights. If this fight progresses for any significant length of time, it’s likely Weidman will put Silva on his back at some point, though it won’t be easy.
-As dangerous a fight as this is for Silva, the UFC must be leaning on him to sell this card. Weidman has 5 UFC fights in his pocket. He’s fought on two prelims (UFC 131 and 139), the main card of a small TV show (Sanchez vs. Kampmann on Versus), a dreadful bout to open the first “official” UFC on Fox, and as the headliner on a channel that a meaningful segment of the country still doesn’t get* a full calendar year ago. Silva somehow pulled over 400,000 buys against Stephan Bonnar as a short-notice replacement fight in Brazil. To think that he could only draw 325,000 in a legitimate title-for-title superfight against Dan Henderson five years ago.
* – I still don’t get Fuel TV in the Chicago market. That, praise be to Jesus and Allah, will not be an issue when the UFC transitions to Fox Sports 1 in August.
Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
-In contrast to the fine piece linked above, here’s “Kid” Nate Wilcox following Frankie Edgar’s loss at UFC 150:
Frankie Edgar, skilled and capable as he is, has been boring the daylights out of the Lightweight division since taking the belt from B.J. Penn at UFC 112 in April 2010. Apparently he’s been laboring under the misapprehension that fans and judges appreciate his elegant point-fighting style.
Alas Mr. Edgar we do not.
MMA fans thirst for clear conclusions. We want definitive answers, not 50 shades of Frankie Edgar. With the exception of his second title bout with Gray Maynard, every single Frankie Edgar LW title fight has left its outcome to the judges to decide and the fans to debate.
Never mind Frankie Edgar’s six “Fight of the Night” awards. Never mind his two classics opposite Gray Maynard in 2011. Never mind the man that beat Frankie, Ben Henderson, hasn’t stopped an opponent in his entire UFC career. No, Frankie Edgar is a bore and deserving of half-brained allusions to 50 Fuckin’ Shades of Grey.
Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie
-Tim Kennedy on June 25:
“I hope this isn’t the reality of the sport, if it is I should probably go do something else, like empty trash cans. I’d make more money than I do now.”
Tim Kennedy on June 28:
“My choice of words was poor, not properly informed, and did not match my intent. Additionally, my comments were taken out of context.”
-Kennedy’s tail tucking shows just how little leverage fighters – at least those below the main eventers – have with the UFC. Pre-apology, the UFC almost assuredly releases Kennedy with a loss on Saturday. Post-apology, he’s still in the doghouse, and best watch his tongue (or Twitter fingers).
Mark Munoz vs. Tim Boetsch
-Holy Shit! Stat of the Day: Mark Munoz has completed only 23% of his takedowns in the UFC/WEC. Lowlights: 0-4 against Matt Hamill, 2-12 against Nick Catone, 1-8 against Kendall Grove, and 1-15 (!) against Yushin Okami.
-This is still the best thing I’ve ever seen in the Octagon: BOETSCH_HEATH_RAGDOLL.GIF
Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver
-This is a great UFC PPV. You’ve got five solid PPV fights – the only fight with a heavy favorite (Frankie Edgar 5-1 against Charles Oliveira) should still put on a show, divisional relevance, a meaningful title fight, and the best greatest active fighter on the planet. Swanson and Siver should be the low-end of names you see on the PPV bill, and not the likes of Chris Camozzi or Court McGee or Igor Pokrajac.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at FightFansRadio.com, also available as a podcast via iTunes.