Check any pound-for-pound list, from ESPN to the UFC, and more likely than not you’ll find Anderson Silva’s name gracing the top spot. And for good reason. The Champion is the most dominant middleweight in UFC history. Regularly making his opponents look like choreographed kata partners from the local karate studio, Silva will be looking for an 11th straight title defense when he faces this month’s cover subject, Chris Weidman. The de facto underdog to most pundits, Weidman’s nine-fight undefeated record doesn’t seem to carry the right names or the right finishes to convince many of them to pick him in a contest against the greatest MMA fighter in the world. But Weidman isn’t fazed by the onlookers’ lack of faith. Anderson Silva is after all, just a man. And like all men, he is fallible.
Dan Henderson showed a chink in Silva’s armor when he took him down and dominated him in the first round of their fight in 2008. Chael Sonnen put a can opener to that armor when he tore through Silva for the better part of five rounds in their first matchup. And while those fighters ended up adding W’s to Silva’s win column and glow to his mystique, they only served to bolster Weidman’s confidence that the man could be beat.
It’s no mystery that Weidman’s wrestling will factor heavily in their upcoming fight. But given the failures of the long list of fighters before him and his own relative inexperience compared to the champ, how can he be so sure of himself? We sent Chuck Mindenhall to Ray Longo’s gym in Long Island, NY to find out. Flip to page 42 and find out why a certain group of individuals from a small gym in New York won’t be surprised if Weidman shocks the world, and why you shouldn’t be either.