UFC 162 is happening this weekend in Las Vegas, and the main event features Chris Weidman challenging Anderson Silva for his middleweight title. Before you catch the fight, read up on my primer to get you ready for tomorrow’s action.
Featherweight: Dennis Siver (21-8) v Cub Swanson (19-5)
Very intriguing match up between Siver and Swanson. Both featherweights are coming in riding winning streaks (two for Siver, four for Swanson) in a fight that could have very real implications in the featherweight title picture. Swanson would love to get a rematch against featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, but realistically, I don’t think he’s there yet. I expect him to beat Siver by KO/TKO (he’s won three of his previous four fights by KO/TKO) and take on Frankie Edgar (assuming he wins) in his next fight. A rematch against Ricardo Lamas would be a great fight, but Lamas seems to be marked as the no. 1 contender, an Edgar fight makes more sense.
Swanson-KO/TKO Round 2
Middleweight: Tim Kennedy (15-4) v Roger Gracie (6-1)
This middleweight fight pits two Strikeforce imports against each other for their first fight under the UFC banner. Kennedy will be a good test for Gracie. Gracie is entering the match on a two fight win streak, and has won four out of his last five fights. Gracie will be expected to utilize his submission skills (five submission victories) and isn’t known for his power, but I don’t think Kennedy will be an easy go on the ground (eight submission victories himself). Kennedy also packs some power, finishing five fights by KO/TKO. Kennedy’s power and experience serve him well in this fight.
Featherweight: Frankie Edgar (15-4-1) v Charles Oliveira (16-3)
To say that this is a “must win” situation for Edgar is pretty ludicrous, the man has fought in seven straight title fights between two weight divisions. To put that in perspective, Edgar has only fought in title matches for the past three years. All that said, Edgar is on a three fight losing streak, dropping two in a row to lightweight champion Benson Henderson, as well as one to featherweight champion Jose Aldo. While he’s not in danger of being cut, he is in danger of entering that weird gatekeeper territory where he’s better than 95% of the roster, but nowhere near a title shot. Oliveira shouldn’t be of much concern, seeing that he’s lost to all real competition that he’s faced, he does possess some power and submission skills (15 of 16 career wins by KO/TKO or submission) but Edgar should move well enough and benefit from lower expectations to neutralize Oliveira easily enough.
Edgar-KO/TKO Round 3
Middleweight Championship: Anderson Silva (33-4) v Chris Weidman (9-0)
Anderson Silva has been UFC Middleweight Champion a full two years longer than Chris Weidman has been a professional. He has more title defenses (10) than Weidman has wins (9). Intriguingly, Weidman has a groundswell of support coming into this fight. Many fighters have been picking him, and he’s been nothing short of impressive in his brief UFC career (5-0, three wins by KO/TKO or submission). Additionally, he’s a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team, which knows a thing or two about taking down a champion. His plan would seem to be to employ his wrestling, which has been Silva’s only exploited weakness, to control the match. The problem is the fact that this fight doesn’t start on the ground. It’d be nice to get Silva on the ground, but that doesn’t happen often. It worked for Chael Sonnen because he pushes forward like a bulldozer, Weidman hasn’t shown he’s like that. Assuming Silva is healthy, taking him to the ground is good in theory, but difficult in practice. While Weidman is a good striker, I can’t take his striking over Silva’s until he proves it. You can pick against Silva, but I won’t until he gives me a reason to. Expect Silva to use his striking to stay on the outside and control the match.
Silva-KO/TKO Round 4
UFC 162: Silva vs Weidman takes place July 6th in Las Vegas and is available on pay-per-view.