Despite being a slight favorite, the champion has a fight on his hands in Chris Weidman.
He might be the best middleweight every seen in mixed martial arts and the pound-for-pound king in the UFC, but Anderson Silva’s title defence at UFC 162 will not be a walk in the park.
While Silva and his camp would have devised a strategy for the fight, there are some things he must do in order to leave Las Vegas with the strap.
1. Movement circle out and away from Weidman’s pressure.
It is no secret the number one contender will press forward for the entire 25 minutes if he is allowed, however, Silva needs to make himself a smaller target.
If Silva can use his footwork to his advantage he will not expose himself to a single or double-leg takedown and keep the fight on the feet where he has the clear advantage.
2. Use his evasive skills from incoming strikes
If you need a reminder what Silva can do as a counter-striker then re-watch his fight with Forrest Griffin.
Yes that was a light-heavyweight and Weidman’s speed will be better this weekend, but the ability to slip and evade punches and counter when he sees a chance, mistake or pattern in an opponent is always there for ‘The Spider’.
3. Use the cage to prevent take downs
Silva’s work either with his back to the cage or controlling position is very good for a fighter who does not rely on it to win fights.
Weidman’s best chance of taking the fight to the mat will be away from the edge of the Octagon, where Silva will be able to pummel and land strikes from close range.
4. Pick his spots
Over the course of a 25-minute title fight a lot can happen and a five minute round can seem like five years to those who are not used to relentless pressure.
While Weidman will try and win early rounds, Silva will need to keep his head and stay patient, which lead into the last point.
5. Use his experience in pressure situations
Silva has had more title defences than Weidman has had fights in his entire career.
Experience like that simple cannot be replicated, and while those close to him and Weidman himself says he is used to performing under pressure, he would not be the first fighter to crumble under the white-hot spotlight of a title shot and main event.
Silva always has the ability to stay calm under pressure and is never out of a fight no matter how far behind he might find himself on a scorecard, just look at how he finished his first fight with Chael Sonnen.