Can Chris Weidman dethrone the pound-for-pound king? | Photo: Kathleen Hinkel/Icon SMI
Two days after the United States celebrates its 237th birthday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship brings another top-level title bout to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The world’s most prominent mixed martial arts promotion will flex its promotional muscle with a week’s worth of fan activities in Sin City, including its immensely popular Fan Expo. It will be capped off with a middleweight title fight between the world’s best pound-for-pound best fighter, longtime champion Anderson Silva, and unbeaten challenger Chris Weidman on Saturday in the UFC 162 main event.
Show Me the Money: When you have won 16 straight UFC fights, oddsmakers are going to shine on you. Against Weidman, Silva (-225) remains a healthy favorite but not by the overwhelming margin to which gamblers have grown accustomed. The last time “The Spider” was a lesser favorite was against Dan Henderson at UFC 82 more than five years ago.
Zero Downside: Righteous, competitive matchups for UFC are always no-brainers, and Silva-Weidman is all sorts of right. No matter the outcome, the UFC and the fans will leave smelling like roses. If Weidman upsets the champion, their rematch will become the biggest bout of 2014. If Silva thrashes another challenger, calls for a super fight with St. Pierre or Jon Jones will only grow louder. Plus, it will also cement the fact that we are watching the greatest fighter of all-time do things no one else has ever done. Score one for good matchmaking here.
Useless Fact: Silva has more consecutive title defenses (10) than Weidman has professional fights (nine).
Say What: If a fighter competes in this sport long enough, he eventually loses. However, Silva’s unblemished 16-0 record in the UFC spits in the face of that belief. What else is left for the 38-year-old to accomplish? During a pre-fight media call, Silva sounded like a man who was content with his career, no matter the outcome of his bout with Weidman. “And whatever I should have done in the sport, I’ve already done,” he said. “Win or lose, I’ve already done everything there is to do. Now, it’s just a matter of doing what I love to do.”
Awards Watch: A savvy submission fighter, Cub Swanson has turned into a potent knockout artist; a potent knockout artist, Dennis Siver has turned into a savvy submission fighter. These world-ranked featherweights will likely duke it out all over the place before scoring “Fight of the Night” honors ... Gabriel Gonzaga and Dave Herman have not seen the judges’ scorecards since 2010. Look for Gonzaga to take the path of least resistance: taking down Herman and strangling him into surrender for the “Submission of the Night” bonus ... The Silva-Weidman main event could easily lead to two post-fight performance awards. Silva could knock out the challenger, or Weidman could submit the champion. Since the SGATB is picking Weidman to score the upset, let us throw in “The Spider” winning the “Knockout of the Night” bonus as an alternative ending.