The Fight Horizon – Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
Mark La Monica at Newsday recently reported that Anderson Silva has agreed to fight #1 contender Chris Weidman. The fight was originally understood to be scheduled for UFC 161, but now appears to be the main event for UFC 162 – the UFC’s annual event this year for the Fourth of July weekend. Weidman hasn’t fought in eight months now since his KO of top contender Mark Munoz, due to a torn labrum and post-surgery recovery. He has avidly campaigned for a shot at the middleweight championship and Anderson Silva – who has dismissed Weidman in favor of pursuing big-name fights that will further cement his legacy.
The Matchup: Chris “The All-American” Weidman vs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva
Chris Weidman (challenger): Weidman brutally defeated Mark Munoz, a former title contender himself, nearly 8 months ago and was then scheduled to fight Tim Boetsch before he tore his right labrum. He has been recovering from shoulder surgery since and just recently announced he has been cleared to train again. It will have been nearly a year since he last fought when he meets Silva in Las Vegas.
Anderson Silva (champion): Silva last fought in October of last year, demolishing Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153 in Brazil. That fight was of course at Light Heavyweight, so when Silva defends against Weidman in July, it will have been almost exactly one year since he last defended his middleweight crown in his epic rematch with the “Gangster out of West Linn, Oregon” Chael Sonnen.
The Date: July 6th, UFC 162 in Las Vegas, NV
Weight Class: Middleweight
What led to it: Put simply, Georges St. Pierre’s determination to settle unfinished business at welterweight before even considering a move to middleweight. Weidman is without question an elite fighter who has done his job and defeated all comers, while other top contenders have already lost to Silva. But the wording says it all: Silva finally agreed to fight Weidman. This fight is happening simply because Silva needed to take a fight and he couldn’t find a better matchup.
Why it matters: Anderson Silva is fighting. Those four words alone make most MMA fans get hyped. If Silva fighting doesn’t get you pumped up, you don’t know MMA. How lucky are we to be witnessing history in the making? Anderson Silva is simply the best. The greatest fighter to ever compete in mixed martial arts. And we have another opportunity to see him perform. Every fight that Anderson Silva takes from this point forward will be under ever increasing scrutiny since the GOAT is nearing retirement. People tend to overlook that Silva is 37 years old because of how easily he dispatches his opponents, which only makes the feats more impressive considering his age. If ever there was an ageless fighter, it is Anderson Silva.
But nothing gold can stay and Anderson Silva’s career is coming to an end. He has nothing left to prove at middleweight. Weidman is a top guy, but has he done anything to show he’s that much better than Vitor Belfort, Yushin Okami, Chael Sonnen, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson and so on and so on? Silva doesn’t simply beat these elite opponents, he finishes them without taking much punishment. A big question is: Is Weidman getting this shot because he’s actually earned it or simply because he’s there? Can he legitimately threaten the champion? Anderson Silva has faced what Weidman is known for many times in the past. He’s faced durable fighters, great wrestlers and strikers and each and every one of them has fallen before the Spider.
When a potential superfight between Silva and Jon Jones or Georges St. Pierre is in talks, anything less than that would be a disappointment, especially considering how many more fights Silva wants to take. Silva went from eliminating the closest thing he had to a rival in his beatdown of Chael Sonnen to a card-saving LHW fight in his native country against a UFC pioneer in Stephan Bonnar. Now he’s fighting…Chris Weidman? There is a very narrow window for a superfight between the GOAT and GSP/Jones, and it’s shrinking with every minute. With all respect to Chris Weidman and what he’s accomplished so far, he is a step down from a guy like Georges St. Pierre or Jon Jones. Those are the types of guys Anderson Silva should be fighting right now, in the twilight of his career.
Weidman, on the other hand, finally got what he wanted: a shot at the middleweight champion. But along with that comes another opportunity: a chance for immortality. Weidman has a chance to do the impossible. Everyone but “The All-American” and his camp will favor Silva to win this fight, but realistically, what are the odds that Weidman wins? Crazier things have happened (Matt Serra anyone?) and Weidman does have the frame and skill set to give the champion problems. But the only way to defeat Anderson Silva is to take him down to the ground and keep him there. No one is going to beat him standing up. Silva however, has some of the best take-down defense in the game. If Weidman manages to somehow survive against Silva, that would be an accomplishment in and of itself. Defeating Anderson Silva would make him go down in history as the young lion who defeated the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. That extra motivation may show us the best Chris Weidman we’ve ever seen come July 6th. But even that just probably won’t be enough to beat The Greatest.