In the aftermath of Anderson Silva's UFC 148 victory over Chael Sonnen, everyone looked at the Middleweight division as cleaned out. The discussion turned to which super-fight Silva should take, the one against Jon Jones or Georges St Pierre. But last night Chris Weidman pulled a full Lee Corso "not so fast my friend!" as he put an absolute beating on UFC veteran Mark Munoz.
Munoz was in line for a title shot if had won this match, but that all went out the window as Weidman won pretty much every second of this fight. Now Munoz has his flaws, most of them coming in the defensive skill sets but he has been a very successful Middleweight who has close fights with other elite Middleweights. We've never seen anyone defeat Munoz such a decisive fashion.
And it isn't just that Weidman beat Munoz it was how he beat him and we'll get into that after the jump.
Lets start with the end, that standing elbow was hellacious. In the staff predications I said I thought Munoz would enjoy a slight advantage on the feet because he packs some serious power and in the past he has shown the ability to adjust his striking game mid-match. I knew Weidman had good striking but I was not expecting him to catch Munoz so perfectly. I could get into more about Weidman's striking but our boy Jack Slack has already done a Judo Chop that is far better than anything I could on it, so click here and check it out after your done here.
The place were many expected Weidman to enjoy an advantage was on the mat. For those who follow grappling, Weidman has been a fighter to watch for some time. He was a two time NCAA All American in wrestling and with only one year of BJJ training he qualified for ADCCs, the best no gi submission grappling tournament in the world. Not only did he qualify, he was competitive with Andre Galvao, one of the very best competitive black belts in the world.
And last night confirmed what all that suggests, this Chris Weidman kid can freaking grapple. His single leg shot was lighting quick, but also perfectly timed. Anytime Munoz started moving forward with his strikes Weidman changed levels and shot while Munoz was too out of position to defend the takedown. The result was to make Munoz, an accomplished wrestler himself, look like he'd never seen a single leg shot before.
Once on the ground Weidman used active and dynamic top position to set up submission attacks. Munoz's wrestling game is based in his ability to scramble and Weidman used consistent movement and good positioning to prevent Munoz's scrambles from ever getting started. Weidman's submission attack was fairly diverse also, working for several guillotines and also a kimura/armbar series from side control.
Chris Weidman very well could have just jumped to the front of the line to fight Anderson Silva. Having now beaten Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen twice in the last year or so, I think it is safe to say that Silva has laid to rest the myth that the fighter to take the title from him is a wrestler who grinds out decisions. Across the entire arc of Silva's career the most consistent way to defeat SIlva, meaning it has worked twice, is to submit him. While Silva has submitted fighters and holds the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, his grappling game is some what lackadaisical and frankly, just too passive.
An aggressive strong, and physical submission grappler like Weidman would give Sliva fits on the ground because unlike Sonnen, Weidman would be able to put Silva in legitimate danger of being finished. The trick is getting Silva on his back, as he uses footwork and distance to avoid takedowns rather than simple counter wrestling. This has worked very well in the past against less explosively athletic grapplers like a Thales Leites, Yushin Okami, or Demian Maia, but Sonnen clearly demonstrated that quick level changes and shots can breach this defense. Weidman definitely has that ability. While Silva would clearly enjoy a healthy reach advantage and has shown that his ability on the feet is unequaled in all of MMA, Weidman presents real problems for the champion and has just topped my list of Middleweights I want to see face Silva.