Call Chris Weidman's recent words to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva by whatever name fits, but ask yourself a very important question: Is the undefeated Weidman, who returns from almost a year-long layoff to challenge for Silva's title, inside the head of "The Spider"?
The answer to that question may depend on what qualifies as getting inside Silva's head. Weidman declared his confidence in his abilities and said he would defeat Silva where others previously fell. He expressed a faith in his takedown defense and his ability to out-strike the veteran striker—something which few can claim in bouts with the Brazilian.
On the surface, this doesn't necessarily mean anything Weidman said got under Silva's skin. Therefore, it must mean he didn't get in Silva's head, right? He didn't take any pot-shots at Silva, nor did he insult his home country or the caliber of fighters he trains with. In essence, he said everything that title challengers normally say before they challenge for a world title.
However, while Weidman didn't say much more than that he would leave UFC 162 with the UFC middleweight title, he still found his way into Silva's head. Any time a challenger claims that he will dethrone a champion, he becomes the central point of the champion's focus.
The champion may respect his challenger, but he will still look to retain his title and defeat the person looking to take away the very item that signifies himself as the undisputed best fighter in his weight class. In only his 10th pro fight, Weidman will look to make the most of the "perfect scenario," so to speak, when he meets Silva this weekend.
With that being said, don't expect Silva to hand Weidman the belt on a silver platter. The champion will be looking for his 11th successful title defense on Saturday, and even when he comes in at less than 100 percent, he always comes in looking to dominate when someone comes after his belt. Weidman will not prove easy for Silva, but the champion will come in focused and prepared to show why he still sits atop the middleweight division this weekend.
Whether he keeps the belt or not remains a question for Saturday night, but if Weidman does what he needs to do in order to stifle Silva, he will create the upset of the year.