UFC on Fuel 4 takes place very soon, and I’m not close to having all the SILVA scores done for it. I’ll do my best to get them done, but I can’t guarantee anything right now.
What I did guarantee was a breakdown of the main event between Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman, so that’s what I’m delivering right now. Munoz enters at 12-2 overall, and 7-2 in the UFC; he’s coming off a TKO win over Chris Leben at UFC 138. Weidman enters at 8-0, with four of those wins in the UFC, his last being a unanimous decision victory against Demian Maia.
Weidman is certainly a fighter with a lot of hype behind him, but in this case, I think the hype is justified. It’s not that I think Weidman is ready to challenge Anderson Silva or anything, but he’s been able to develop a very solid skill set in a short period of time. Weidman has a wrestling background, and has adapted it very well to professional MMA. Granted, Weidman has yet to face a wrestler as good as Munoz, but to the best of my knowledge, he has yet to be taken down in an MMA fight, and he’s taken down all of his opponents so far. On top of that, Weidman has developed a competent, if not great, striking game. He out-struck Demian Maia in his last fight, which means he’s not bad at it, but he didn’t dominate the striking either. However, for Weidman, he only needs his striking to be good enough to survive until he’s able to land takedowns and work on the ground.
And Weidman is already excellent on the ground. It didn’t take him long to finish Tom Lawlor with a Brabo choke at UFC 139, and he was good enough against Demian Maia that Maia gave up on the ground game against him. He also managed to tap out Jesse Bongfeldt with a standing guillotine choke, and I have yet to see Weidman even remotely threatened on the ground. These are UFC-caliber fighters that Weidman is out-classing, and he’s doing it at a very early point of his MMA career.
And I happen to think Weidman presents a really tough skill set for Mark Munoz to beat. Like Weidman, Munoz has a wrestling background, although his hasn’t translated to MMA nearly as well as Weidman’s. Sure, Munoz was good enough to out-wrestle Chris Leben and Demian Maia, but he was out-wrestled by Aaron Simpson and shut down by Yushin Okami. Since I believe Weidman is a better wrestler than Simpson, I see Weidman winning the takedown battle in this one.
So it seems the best chance Munoz has is to out-strike or knock out Chris Weidman. I’m not going to completely dismiss the possibility; Munoz has real power in his hands, and did pretty well against Leben in terms of volume. But even in the striking game, Weidman might have a slight edge, because of Munoz’s very questionable chin. Most are very familiar with Matt Hamill’s head kick knockout at UFC 96, but that hardly stands alone as an example. Munoz was staggered by Demian Maia, stunned and nearly finished by Kendall Grove, and knocked down by Yushin Okami. It’s one thing to get hurt by strikes in fights, but Maia, Grove, and Okami are not names that come to mind when I think of striking power in the middleweight division. If those fighters can hurt Munoz badly, then Chris Weidman is absolutely a threat to win by KO/TKO here.
SILVA PREDICTION: MARK MUNOZ (75.88) OVER CHRIS WEIDMAN (67.03)
The funny thing is that I wrote all of the above before processing new SILVA scores for Munoz and Weidman, with the full expectation that SILVA would favor Weidman. Surprise! SILVA favors Munoz, as the only win Weidman has that it REALLY likes was his win over Demian Maia. The other wins – Jesse Bongfeldt, Tom Lawlor, and Alessio Sakara – just weren’t enough to give Weidman a strong Fight Level. I guess this means I’m picking against SILVA, as the tape study I’ve done really seems to show Weidman as the fighter to beat. Even with Weidman not being favored by SILVA, what he’s done in a very short career is very remarkable, and I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t get a shot at the title at some point.