There was nothing lucky about Chris Weidman’s left hook.
He connected squarely with Anderson Silva’s jaw and dropped the former middleweight champion at UFC 162 on July 7.
But can he do it again though?
The All-American will have his chance. Dana White announced on July 13 that a Silva-Weidman rematch would occur as the main event of UFC 168 on Dec. 28 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
It’s legitimate to ask if Weidman can replicate the success he had in the first match because no one else in the UFC has done it once. The knockout was Silva’s first loss since joining the UFC. Silva, 39, has been the middleweight champion since 2006 when he defeated Rich Franklin at UFC 64.
Silva has defeated some bigger names with longer track records, but perhaps no one with Weidman’s blend of knockout power, wrestling and ju-jitsu skills since a bout with Dan Henderson at UFC 82.
Henderson, similar to Weidman, had success in the first round, taking Silva down and holding him there. The difference came in Weidman’s second-round finish where Henderson couldn’t. He capitalized on Silva’s mistake.
Silva is such a great striker and submission specialist that his fights don’t often make it to a decision — his bout with Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 proved that. Sonnen dominated the fight for almost five rounds before Silva pulled off an improbable triangle choke with less than two minutes remaining in the bout. During Silva’s UFC tenure, only two fights have went to a decision.
So to retain his belt, history tells us that Weidman can’t hope for a five-round decision, he likely needs to finish the former champion.
He’ll face a different Anderson Silva this time who does less showboating and could be more desperate, but that may be a good thing for Weidman.
Silva’s antics in the ring are well documented, he hid behind a referee against Demian Maia and has taunted countless opponents. The ploy is designed to get fighters out of their game, and for the most part, it has worked.
In Silva’s second fight with Sonnen at UFC 148, Sonnen attempted a spinning backfist and completely whiffed falling straight on his face, setting Silva up to finish him shortly thereafter. That was out of Sonnen’s character. He’s not a dynamic striker and knows it, so why try a strike with a high degree of difficulty and a low success rate?
Pre-Weidman, everytime Silva left his face open for interpretation by putting his hands down, the opponent made a mistake and faced the wrath of his technical strikes. Silva’s antics didn’t work against Weidman in the first bout though, so it’s back to the drawing board for Silva.
Now Silva, the greatest fighter in UFC history, has something to prove. Can he regain the intimidation factor?
Plus, Weidman is young, hungry and one of the most talented fighters that Silva has ever faced. After only nine professional fights, Weidman outclassed Mark Munoz — a top 10 middleweight.
I picked Weidman before the first fight, but I was surprised that so many of his UFC peers shared my sentiment. So when Silva was dropped to the canvas by Weidman’s hook I wasn’t surprised and I won’t be surprised when he does it again.
I think that’s it’s Weidman’s middleweight division now. It’s time to watch what he does with the throne.