The undefeated Weidman (9-0) earned his title shot by defeating Mark Munoz by knockout in his last outing.
Following the Knockout of the Night victory over Munoz, Silva was reluctant to accept a fight with Weidman citing the 29-year-old’s lack of name value. Although frustrating at the time, Weidman is happy the match-up finally came to fruition.
“Right after the Munoz fight it was frustrating to hear that they weren’t interested in me, but it is what it is. I guess when the UFC decided to make the fight happen, it happened. Everything happens for a reason. God had a plan and it worked out,” said Weidman on a UFC 162 media conference call.
“I’m real excited for the fight, so I’m not really thinking back to the past and worrying about how frustrated I was. I kind of gave up on that and things kind of worked out well, so I’m happy,” he added.
Weidman beefed up his training camp in preparation for the biggest fight of his career by bringing in kickboxers and boxers to mimic Silva’s style.
“We brought in a couple of different guys for the first time in my career. I’d say the main guy that did a great job emulating him in the stand-up the best he could was Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. He’s a little smaller, but he has unorthodox striking. It was definitely good preparation for this fight,” said the middleweight challenger.
“I had a bunch of really good kickboxers that were living in New York City that we used. We used a couple of top national champion boxers for the stand-up. At Renzo Gracie’s academy we have a lot of good jiu-jitsu guys to emulate the best they could some of the stuff that Anderson does on the ground too. I think we did it the best we could with this camp preparing for Anderson.”
Silva has been nearly flawless in his performances in the UFC outside of the first round with Dan Henderson at UFC 82 and his first fight with Chael Sonnen. Sonnen was able to consistently put Silva on his back and control him for the better part of their five-round championship bout at UFC 117.
Silva defeated Sonnen by submission in the final round after losing the opening four rounds of the fight. What Henderson and Sonnen brought to the table that presented problems for Silva was their wrestling. Weidman has a similar style.
Weidman believes he’ll be able to employ a similar strategy to what Sonnen utilized in his first meeting with Silva.
“The obvious answer is the takedowns, trying to expose him with the wrestling. But we’re totally different fighters,” said Weidman about Silva’s first fight with Sonnen.
Sonnen didn’t exactly provide Weidman with a blueprint to defeat Silva, but the New Yorker feels he learned from Sonnen’s success against the champion.
“I believed I could beat him before that fight. He stays relaxed. If you’re all tense and he’s relaxed, eventually he’s going to be able to get off what he wants. I think the main thing I learned from that is I thought Chael was a little bit too uptight and tense when he got the takedowns, and I think it paid off for Anderson to stay relaxed the whole entire fight because he was able to have the energy to lock that triangle in the fifth round,” said Weidman. “All props to Anderson on that.”
Unlike with Sonnen, there’s no animosity between Silva and Weidman. In fact, Weidman admires Silva and considers himself a fan.
“I’ve been definitely a big fan of Anderson’s. Since I got in the sport he’s been the champion, so he’s a guy that I’ve been keeping my eye on since day one. Just like anybody else, you’ve got to love the guy a lot, watching the guy fight. He’s relaxed out there and he’s done things that no one has done in the sport. It’s always a pleasure to watch and I definitely admire him.”
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