It seems almost preposterous to suggest that a loss to an up-and-comer like Chris Weidman could tarnish the pristine legacy of longtime UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
After all, "The Spider" has racked up a 16-0 record in the UFC and has defended his belt a record 10 straight times, facts that deservedly make him the most prolific champ in company history.
"The All-American," conversely, has only graced the Octagon five times and has competed professionally on just nine occasions.
Nevertheless, it's the stark contrast in the resumes of each fighter that will undoubtedly put Silva's immaculate reputation on the line at UFC 162 in Las Vegas in July.
In essence, a bout with an inexperienced and relatively unknown challenger like Weidman represents the most risky endeavor Silva has taken since making his UFC debut in 2006.
A win over The All-American will further solidify The Spider's stature as the sport's top dog. A loss, however, will fuel the flames of critics worldwide who believe that the 38-year-old Silva no longer belongs at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.
Although he routinely gets labeled a heavy favorite by the oddsmakers, Silva has only been deemed a 2.8-to-1 favorite (-280) to best the seemingly green Weidman (+220), according to Bovada.com.
But the soon-to-be 29-year-old New York native obviously didn't earn a shot at Silva because he's got a wealth of experience or because he's dominated the UFC's middleweight division for an extraordinarily long stretch of time.
While Weidman has reeled off an impressive five-fight winning streak in the UFC, the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler ultimately landed his dream fight because of the stylistic issues he presents for Silva.
In an interview with MMAweekly.com in May, the Serra-Longo Fight team product said the following regarding Silva's choice to pass on a bout with him before his last fight with Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
I think there are a couple of reasons (why Silva didn’t want to take the fight). The number one reason, I am a terrible match-up for him. On paper I think I have him beat in more areas than he has me beat. I don’t think he’s ever fought a guy who has him beat in as many areas as I do. I’m young. I’m hungry. I don’t have the biggest name, so people are going to expect him to beat me. I think he knows being a smart guy and being around the MMA game that it’s not going to be an easy fight.
The perception that a dominant wrestler like Weidman could solve the riddle of Silva spawned when another former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, Chael Sonnen, nearly dethroned the pound-for-pound king at UFC 117.
Only a Hail-Mary triangle armbar with 1:50 left in the bout saved Silva from getting dominated in a decision loss to the pressure-heavy Sonnen.
But while the blueprint to best Silva obviously got put on film at UFC 117, Weidman remains adamant that he began believing he could top The Spider long before that night.
I always thought I had better wrestling. I thought I had the length and athleticism to be aware on the feet to when I could strike for my takedowns and look to punch. And when I hit the ground, I always felt confident in my jiu-jitsu. So it wasn’t like I saw the Chael Sonnen fight and said, ‘Oh, my God! Look! I can beat him!’ It was way before that.
Weidman has made it clear that he doesn't just plan to just best The Spider, he intends to stop his long reign of terror while starting one of his own.
To prove how confident he's become with the idea of knocking off the sport's top pound-for-pound fighter, Weidman has liberally stated that if he wins, he'll give Silva an immediate rematch.
Listen, I’m not even being cocky or arrogant when I say I’ll give him an immediate rematch. You have to believe you’re going to win. I believe I’m going to win. He’s had 10 title defenses. His only option, after I beat him, is to retire or have a rematch with me.