Weidman has been called a younger Chael Sonnen, perfectly suited to defeat the leading candidate for the UFC's "Greatest of All Time". Oddsmakers have Silva as a -260 versus Weidman (+220) at Saturday’s UFC 162, but what do the numbers say?
Tale of the tape:
The fighters are equally sized, but Weidman will have a significant age advantage, which is why many are picking an 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 trumped youth for a long time.
Silva is pound-for-pound, punch-for-punch the most dangerous striker in UFC history. Lately, he prefers to evade and counterstrike, 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.
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.
Here’s where it gets tricky. The only times Silva was put in danger was when Sonnen put him on his back and worked ground-and-pound. This cost Silva some of the only 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 ground control. Weidman has seen the blueprint for defeating Silva and he comes in with exactly the right skill set to pull it off.
Silva fought injured in his first bout 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 percent is way above average and that’s defending against top-ranked contenders in nearly every fight. Don’t underestimate Silva’s ability to defend takedowns.
Once on the ground, Weidman can work some ground-and-pound, but he also has a submission offense that Sonnen lacked. 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.
Weidman is a threat to win some rounds but 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’s no striker more dangerous than Silva. It may take a couple rounds to develop, but eventually Silva will get the opportunity to counterstrike while Weidman is pressing forward and Silva excels at finding his target while they pursue.
Check out MMAOddsbreaker.com for more betting news on UFC 162 and find the latest MMA odds here.
Reed Kuhn writes for MMAOddsbreaker.com and runs Fightnomics.com. Follow him on Twitter @Fightnomics.