There is a phenomenon in sports that happens time and time again – an athlete is mentioned so often as being underrated that the opposite occurs – he starts to become overrated. This has happened with UFC 162's main event between the G.O.A.T. Anderson Silva and challenger Chris Weidman. So many people – including UFC fighters – are picking the underdog Weidman to win that he is being overrated and overvalued.
This isn't meant to diminish Weidman's skills or disparage him in any way – he is a fine fighter and an animal in the cage. But there are several things going against him in this matchup with Silva:
Weidman has exactly nine pro MMA fights to his name, and only started fighting professionally in 2009. Silva, meanwhile, is 33-4 and has been making money in MMA since 1997. Plus, of Weidman's nine fights, only the last two were against top shelf opponents – Demian Maia (who in all fairness wasn't top shelf any longer as a middleweight) and Mark Munoz.
Paths To Victory
I'm big on the "paths to victory" approach Jason Rothman details in his book, Betting on MMA. Basically, when handicapping a fight you break down how a fight can be won (eg. KO, decision, submission, etc.) and then assign odds to how likely that path to victory is for a fighter. So what are Weidman's paths to victory against Silva? For one, he isn't going to knock him out or even rock him – Silva has the best chin ever in the sport and hasn't shown any chinks in his armor yet, despite his advancing age. And it is also highly unlikely that Weidman is going to submit The Spider, as the BJJ black belt hasn't been taped out in nine years. So Weidman's only decent chance at victory is via decision – taking Silva to the ground and grinding out a victory. But Silva has a very underrated takedown defense (70% success rate in stuffing takedowns) and showed in the last Chael Sonnen fight that when he is healthy (no broken rib) and his opponent isn't illegally stuffed to the gills with testosterone, even a world class wrestler finds it next to impossible to take him down and keep him down.
Not only is Silva the greatest fighter of all-time, he is also the greatest striker. If Weidman stays on his feet and trades with Silva (which he may be forced to do if Silva stuffs his takedowns), he will eventually get picked apart and hurt. Not only does Silva have an iron chin, he also has incredible power in all his limbs and is brave enough and creative enough to pull off unorthodox moves that turns his opponent's lights out.
Last, but perhaps most importantly, is Chris Weidman's recent string of inactivity. His last fight was almost a year to the day of UFC 162. Ring rust is a real thing, not to mention Weidman was nursing injuries during this time off. For an inexperienced fighter like himself, spending a year out of the cage is not a positive thing.
Despite what everyone is saying about picking Weidman to upset Silva, the fact is that very few are giving the ultimate endorsement to Weidman in this fight – putting their money where their mouths are. The betting lines for the fight only give the New Jersey native a 33% chance of winning. Money talks.