UFC 162 July 6, 2013 Middleweight Championship: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics Big Picture: The buzz is that Chris Weidman is the most dangerous opponent Silva has yet to face during his epic, record breaking title run. That Weidman is a younger Chael Sonnen, perfectly suited to defeat the leading candidate for UFC Greatest of All Time. But what do the numbers say? Summary Stats:
Tale of Tape Matchup: The fighters are equally sized, but Weidman will have a significant Youth Advantage – which is a key driver of why many are picking upset. But Silva’s ability to fight in an orthodox or southpaw stance has caused problems for better strikers than Weidman. While the basic age question certainly makes the underdog interesting, Silva has trumping youth for a long time. Standup Game: I did the math. Anderson Silva is the pound for pound, punch for punch most dangerous striker in UFC history. End of story. Lately he prefers to evade and counter-strike, resulting in ridiculously high (record breaking) accuracy and obvious knockdown power. He holds all the important striking records, and his highlight reel finishes include a who’s who of top contenders. On the other side of the tape, Chris Weidman’s stats are mixed. He has an accurate jab, but below accurate power hand. He tends to push the pace a little on his opponents and works at a higher than average rate of output. But against a fighter like Silva these attributes could work against Weidman. There’s no doubt that the longer this stays standing, the more likely it is that one of Silva’s laser-like punches will find Weidman’s chin. Ground Game: And here’s where it gets tricky. The only times Silva was put in danger was when Chael Sonnen put him on his back and worked ground and pound. This cost Anderson Silva some of his only lost rounds in his UFC career, and Sonnen was able to do it consistently. Weidman’s grappling stats are actually superior to Sonnen’s in takedowns and in ground control. So Weidman has seen the blueprint for defeating Silva, and he comes in with exactly the right skill set to pull it off. But will that be enough? Let’s remember that Silva fought injured in his first fight against Sonnen. The second time around, his takedown defense was better and he made shorter work finishing his opponent. His historical takedown defense of 81% is way above average, and that’s defending against top ranked contenders in nearly every fight. So let’s not underestimate Silva’s ability to defend some takedowns. Once on the ground Weidman can work some ground and pound, but he also has a submission offense that Sonnen lacked. Again, that compares well against his predecessor, but Silva is an experienced BJJ black belt, and has been doing this a lot longer than Weidman. Finishing Silva on the ground won’t be easy. Just ask Dan Henderson. Fight Prediction: I definitely think Weidman is a threat to win some rounds. But I still think Silva inevitably gets a few standup exchanges. Weidman’s sub-par striking will be a more glaring mismatch than Silva’s grappling defense. Statistically speaking, there is no more dangerous striker than Anderson Silva. It may take a couple rounds to develop, but eventually Silva will get the opportunity to counter-strike while Weidman is pressing forward, and Silva excels at finding his target while they pursue. Reed’s Pick: Silva by TKO Reed’s Recommended Play: The hype train is coming full force behind Weidman, just like it did for Sonnen. That should be creating a cushion of value for Silva, yet Weidman remains a 2:1 underdog. Unlike when Sonnen fought his rematch against Silva at only slightly wider odds than these, I actually think the line here is well placed. But while Weidman clearly poses a threat, I simply haven’t seen enough from him to warrant picking against the champ. So this is not a bet I would go heavy on. The underdog pick presents reasonable value and a Weidman by decision prop returns a whopping +710. But I like Silva, and not by decision. The fairly conservative odds by Silva’s standards (-220), are less interesting than the line for Silva inside the distance (-120). The strategy here could be hedging Silva inside the distance with a Weidman upset, potentially by decision. But given the tightness of these lines, there’s not as much risk/reward for picking a side.