Anderson Silva Will Need to Be in Top Form to Beat Chris Weidman at UFC 162

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2013

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Anderson Silva during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter in UFC history, but he's going to need his best effort to beat Chris Weidman at UFC 162 on Saturday.

As unfathomable as a Silva loss might appear—we have never seen one inside the Octagon, after all—the writing is on the wall for the unthinkable to happen. 

Age has to catch up with the 38-year-old pound-for-pound kingpin sooner or later.

The 29-year-old Weidman also appears to have the skill set that is widely believed to have a shot at defeating Silva. The two-time All-American wrestler has successfully transitioned his amateur wrestling background to the world of MMA grappling, utilizing submissions to make him even more fearsome. 

He's capable of employing the same game plan that allowed Chael Sonnen to beat Silva for four-and-a-half rounds at UFC 117 before succumbing to a triangle armbar from "The Spider." The only difference is that Weidman's submission offense and defense are much more refined than Sonnen's. 

The added threat that Weidman could submit Silva makes him even more dangerous than Sonnen was.

Even UFC veterans like Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans, John Moraga, Sonnen, Gray Maynard and Daniel Cormier have either pegged Weidman as a legitimate threat or the outright winner of Saturday's title fight, per this UFC hype video:

However, just because Weidman has the tools doesn't mean Silva should skip out on Saturday night. We're still talking about the greatest champion in UFC history and a minus-240 favorite, according to Bovada.

There's no denying that Silva should be favored. There's no amount of theoretical advantages that a middleweight can have that should make him a favorite to beat Silva. A 16-0 record in the Octagon and 10 consecutive title defenses trump what's on paper.

The Spider can't afford to make any mistakes, though. He'll have to remind fans of what made him the revered fighter that he has become. After his first fight with Sonnen, he offered up the explanation that his poor performance came from a rib injury that he kept secret and decided to fight through.

The alleged rib injury could have been a contributing factor to the fact that Silva was taken down three times in the five-round championship bout.

Per MMA Junkie, there were reports of another rib injury for Silva in his preparation for this fight, but the UFC later denied those claims. 

The clean bill of health for the champion is good news for his fans. If Sonnen could take an injured Silva down three times en route to what would have been a dominant performance on the scorecards, then Weidman has the ability to equal his success against the champion.

Silva is going to need to be in top form if he's going to extend his record-setting title reign to 11 successful defenses.