The next big UFC fight on the horizon comes up in just under 2 weeks at UFC 162 and it is between middleweight champion, Anderson Silva and top contender, Chris Weidman. The event will take place at the Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 6, 2013 with the main event beginning around midnight, eastern time. To find a fighter who was less of an underdog against Silva, we have to go all the way back to UFC 126, when Vitor Belfort was a 3 to 1 underdog to defeat the champ. It took just 3 minutes for Silva to dispose of Belfort in that fight. The question is, does the 9 years younger, undefeated Weidman pose a threat to the greatest pound for pound mixed martial artist today? And is there any value in betting on the challenger at the current line of 3.34 to 1?
The tale of the tape is pretty well known to most MMA fans. Chris Weidman, former NCAA Division 1 wrestler taking on one of the best strikers in MMA history, Anderson Silva. The fighters are almost identical in terms of height and reach with both standing 6’2″ tall and Weidman possessing a 0.5″ reach advantage at 78″. The similarities pretty much end there however.
Chris Weidman is a young, up and comer in the UFC’s middleweight division. While known mostly for his wrestling which is on full display in this 2012 highlight tape, he does have the ability to stand and trade as evidenced by his knockout victory over fearsome UFC striker, Mark Munoz.
Anderson Silva, on the other hand, is a long time UFC veteran with 17 wins and no losses in UFC competition. He is quite possibly the best striker in combat sports history and is currently the top ranked pound for pound fighter in the Official UFC Rankings. Not only is he a great fighter, he wins in spectacular fashion, as evidenced by this 12 minute highlight tape of brutal finishes.
There are some key stats which could play a big role in the UFC 162 headliner. At the top of the list is age. Silva is 38 years old and many are wondering when he will begin to slow down. It is hard to believe that his 37 career fights haven’t taken a major tole on his body and that he is still able to train at the level he could in his younger days. He has basically faced every type of fighter imaginable however and that experience will help him going into any match-up he could have. Weidman, on the other hand, is just 29 years old and has just 9 career fights. All of which were victories. While likely able to train at a higher level of intensity than Silva, Weidman’s relative inexperience could lead to mistakes in the Octagon that Silva would be sure to capitalize on.
In terms of in-fight stats, the two land a very similar number of significant strikes, 3.23 per minute and 3.17 per minute for the champion, Silva. What differentiates the two in strikes is that Silva lands 67% of the strikes he throws (one of the highest numbers for a fighter with a significant number of fights) vs 43% for Weidman. This means for every strike Weidman lands, he is throwing 2.5 punches while Silva is throwing just 1.5. From an energy standpoint, it will be easier for Silva to maintain his pace over the 5 full title fight rounds than it will be for Weidman who will be throwing many more punches. Weidman’s likely attack plan will be to take down “The Spider.” That in itself is no easy task. Silva defends 70% of takedowns attempted against him and Weidman lands 72% of the takedowns he attempts, so it could take multiple attempts before Weidman manages a single takedown.
How we see the fight going
We expect it to be the closest fight Silva has had since he earned a fifth round submission victory while losing on points against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 in August, 2010. We expect Weidman to tenaciously go for the takedown, and to be able to defend many of Silva’s early attacks. Silva will get worn down from having Weidman attacking from the top and will be less able to defend the takedown in the later rounds. We see Weidman taking the victory via unanimous decision and becoming the new UFC Middleweight champion, breaking Silva’s 17 fight UFC win streak in the process. Our model agrees and has Weidman as the slight favourite to win.
If Weidman fails to get the takedown, or has difficulty taking Silva down, Silva could make quick work of him as we don’t feel Weidman has the ability to successfully stand with Silva for a full 5 rounds.
Our primary bet would be on Weidman to take the victory via any method at 3.34 to 1 as he is favoured in the model and an underdog to the bookies.
Another possible bet would be Weidman to take the decision win at 7.05 to 1 and Silva to win in the first round at 3.15 to 1.
Stay tuned leading up to UFC 162 as we bring you our model’s full event predictions and our smart bets for the event.