Because I had deep seated suspicions about this match being a possible setup due to the way that the UFC promoted this fight, the general tyrannical hold that Dana has on Anderson and how that previous state of affairs left Anderson without much to prove and little incentive to be motivated to turn in his electrifying performances that remove doubt as to him being literally the greatest MMA fighter to date [ although Jon Jones seems poised to take that title in a few years, if he can avoid getting smashed in the heavyweight division by Cain, JDS or any of the other monsters there...and if he can avoid a matchup with Cormier which is a bad matchup for him stylistically, although HE CAN WIN THAT FIGHT and probably HAS THE EDGE in that fight if they fight in 2014 while Cormier is still developing as a genuine MMA combatant ].
And despite all of that? Despite the fact that I still very strongly believe that there was a slanting of the fight a bit in Chris' favor by NOT letting Anderson have the widely accepted 2 months to fully recover from a KO loss, and even moreso by NOT having the rematch in Brazil where we would be assured of a fully fired up, fully focused, fully powerful Anderson fighting Chris [ remember, Chris is the guy who repeatedly stated that he wanted to take Anderson out as they fought for Anderson's belt in Brazil BEFORE their first match; it still makes sense to sell out Brazil's largest soccer stadium, moderately hike PPV sales in the USA ,and have the fight in Brazil in order to erase any lingering shades of wrongdoing and fight fixing on the UFC's part ]...despite some of the mistakes that I see weakening Anderson's camp and preventing him from firing on all cylinders [ the notable absence of Freddie Roach honing Anderson's boxing skill, the notable absence of world class boxers as sparring partners keeping Anderson maximally sharp in every striking department, and the persistent stupidity imo of Anderson's team NOT working out with European K-1 elite striking gyms and Anderson's team NOT consistently working out with Cuban and/or Brazilian Olympic wrestlers and judoka ]...despite all of that...
....I call Anderson to win this fight in the 3rd or by decision. Because the bottom line is? Anderson IS the MMA GOAT and Chris IS NOT. That's all there is to it.
I see Weidman coming out, doing essentially a interpretation of Rashad Evans with more offensive submission attacks. Forward pressure, strikes to takedown, gnp, submissions. Or forward pressure, shot, gnp, submissions. Relentless attacks. Chris is better at standup and defense than people think. He's no Anderson, make no mistake, but he is strong...he's bigger than Anderson...he's confident, he's focused, and he has the unmistakable psychological edge of the previous victory. Furthermore, his team is comprised of MMA megaintellects like bjj genius Donaher, kickboxing legend Ray Longo, and the first uberunderdog Matt The Terra Serra. He's brought in creative strikers like Stevie Wonderboy Thomas and others to emulate Anderson's amazing versatility and creativity. He's coming to finish Anderson, make no mistake, and do so in dominating fashion. If Anderson slips up, that is exactly what will happen.
But Anderson won't slip up.
Anderson, for his part, has finally done two of the crucial six things that I think he should do in order to defeat Chris and retain his belt. He has worked out with the outstanding Cuban wrestlers who are without a doubt better takedown specialists than Chris is. They are amongst the very best and most elite CURRENT IN THEIR PRIME wrestlers in the world, from a Cuban program much vaunted feared and respected for their skills, innovations, intellect, work ethic, explosivity, endurance, technique, and unbroken streak of remaining perpetually amongst the world's most elite in all combat sports.
Anderson not only went to Thailand as part of his camp, but he also reunited with the famous Master Diogenes Asahida...the man first brought to MMA international acclaim as the architect of Anderson's feared MT clinch and MT attack. The addition of Master Asahida is a major major weapon in Anderson's arsenal. I know whereof I speak, as I met Diogenese in a seminar he gave literally days before Anderson's destruction of Hendo. The quality, detail, and innovations in his instruction are amazing. I was the shortest and lightest person in his high level seminar at the Piccinini Training Center in Los Angeles 6 years ago, but I handily outlasted and defeated everyone there, and impressed Master Diogenese. He took me aside and showed me further refinements to my standup game using his limited English...but not only did he have translators, I'm a native Spanish speaker with Brazilian family so I didn't have much problem understanding his instructions as he gave them.
What does this mean? Well it means that Chris is NOT going to win the clinch war, and could find himself hurt and finished there. Therefore Chris has to be a MW GSP and basically strike to takedown gnp Anderson before hoping to submit him.
Which brings me to something else that I said before.
Chris. IS NOT. going to submit Anderson. Anderson IS VERY GOOD in bjj AND HAS THE HIGHER RANK BETWEEN THE TWO. Anderson has also faced and defeated better the better MMA submission artists too...as Damien is definitely better in bjj than Chris is, and Thales Leites is a Mundials champion, and hell Travis Lutter is a bjj black belt, and we don't have to go any further the point should be made. Chris. IS NOT. going to sub Anderson.
Which leaves the gnp and takedown game. Chris CAN win this fight by using that approach as his primary go to plan. Forward pressure, cut the angles off, strike, takedown, gnp, submission, remix and repeat.
But. He won't.
The Cubans Anderson is training with are far and away better at the takedown pin gnp mix than Chris is. They are CURRENT Olympic level wrestlers with all the refinement technique power and experience of competing at the higher levels of international Olympic wrestling. Chris, simply put, cannot match their credentials.
Anderson is ready for him there.
And that leaves Chris Weidman's bjj vs the Nog brothers. The. Nog brothers. Okay, nuff said.
Chris will make this a dogfight, I think. I do not predict a onesided destruction by Anderson of Chris...although that's distinctly possible. But Chris IS NOT winning the standup or submission game vs Anderson...although I do see a few dicey moments in the first and second rounds.
By that time the incredible battle computer that is Anderson's brain would have analyzed all he needed about Chris, and begin to remorselessly shut down Chris' offensives. Anderson will repeatedly stuff and rebuff takedowns, and punish Chris in the clinch. Anderson SHOULD be moving more and not give Chris the square shouldered target that offers up Anderson's chest and body to punches and upper body Greco shots. Anderson's success in these areas makes it much harder for Chris to successfully take Anderson down and even harder still to KEEP Anderson there for gnp and/or submissions as the rounds go on.
And Anderson will be more and more successful, firing on more and more cylinders as the rounds pile up.
Anderson either shuts Chris down in 3 or takes a well deserved decision. This is what I think is most likely.
But. This is an important "but"...
...if Anderson isn't as defensively elusive as we expect him to be [ remember even in his losing effort vs Chris he kept Chris down to a dismal 29% connection rate while Silva connected on 53% or so of his own strikes ] then we could very well be looking at a Jones-Gustaffson like war. I expect that feeling...Jones-Gustaffson...to typify round 1 and parts of round 2, until Anderson asserts control.
And it's also during that same period of round 1 and 2 that Anderson could find himself drawn into a knockdown dragout with Chris, and if Anderson has to constantly scramble back up from his back? He will NOT win this fight. The Vegas judges are just LOOKING for an excuse to let Chris retain his belt, and a fightg like that would give them a REASON, not just an EXCUSE, to do so.
But I don't think that will happen either.
Anderson Silva, the MMA GOAT, will reclaim his MW belt, defeat Vitor, threematch Weidman, maybe box Jones and probably drop to WW and have a go at that belt, [ Bigg Rigg is just about the same size as Anderson, just shorter...these WW guys walk around at or over 200 pounds ] and then go up to LHW, have a fight there, and if all goes well he'll have a second fight and snare the LHW belt for his trifecta which crowns him as the undisputed MMA GOAT. Probably defend it once. Add those fights up. That's 8 fights...the same number of fights he has left in his contract now. He can retire then amid thunderous acclaim, with giant paychecks, and all the satisfaction and opportunities that such achievements and accolades afford him.
That's what will play out over the next 8 fights for Anderson.