Well, the world has been abuzz over the Anderson Silva/Chris Weidman fight at UFC 168 this past weekend and we’ve seen people come out of the woodwork to talk about leg kicks and checks. In fact, we’ve spawned whole new generations of experts within the span of minutes after the fight ended. Sometimes these things happen in MMA, I suppose. I think that just talking about the leg kick glazes over on what happened in the rest of the fight, though, as the leg kick and subsequent leg break did indeed lead to a horrific injury and the fight stopping, but it was only one part of the whole.
If you were to ask me what really impressed me about Chris Weidman at UFC 168 there are some obvious things, like his grappling and his ability to keep a safe distance from Anderson and not to fall into the classic traps that Anderson sets. Hell, I’d even say him learning to check Anderson’s leg kicks after the first fight was pretty impressive as well, it’s something that you can watch him improve upon in the matter of six months, but that wasn’t what impressed me the most. What impressed me the most was Chris Weidman’s ability to negate Anderson Silva’s Thai Clinch.
The first round saw Weidman and Silva pressed up against the cage, Anderson escaping from a takedown and Anderson securing the Thai Clinch. He then started doing what Anderson Silva does best, what has filled up Anderson Silva highlights for years now; go for the knees, but something was different this time. What was different was that Chris Weidman didn’t panic, didn’t tense up. Instead, Weidman threw a right hand to the body that caused Anderson to flinch, then followed up with a right hand that perfectly connects on Anderson’s ear, causing him to relent the clinch and fall to the ground, leaving him wide open to more shots from Weidman.
This isn’t just any Thai Clinch in MMA, this is Anderson Silva’s Thai Clinch. Anderson Silva built a career not only on his fluid motion, ability to slip strikes and to avoid opponent’s shots, but his ability to lock on that clinch and land devastating knees with relative ease. You could argue that Anderson looked a bit slower and that age, coming off of a brutal knockout and other factors played a part, but what Weidman demonstrated was a keen ability to stay cool under pressure and how to find not only a way out of a bad situation, but a way to turn it into an advantage. You won’t see your average fighter throw a body shot like that while in a Thai Clinch, or if you do, it will not be done with the kind of force to make a difference.
At this point I still feel like we really haven’t gotten to see enough of Chris Weidman to really get a feel for him, but if he’s able to do something like that to Anderson Silva in one of Anderson Silva’s strongest positions I can only imagine how he’ll stack up against future competition. If I’m Vitor Belfort I’m hoping and praying that the fight is in Brazil and that the commission believes that he has the same amount of testosterone as a little girl and comes in as a monster.