Chael Sonnen had it all figured out. He had the dominant middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, on the ropes and came within a couple minutes of becoming the new UFC middleweight champion.

After Silva stole victory from the jaws of defeat in those waning minutes against Sonnen, it was revealed that Silva fought injured. Normally Silva dominates his opponents and decimates all that stand in his path. Yet an injury to his rib made him seem mortal. It was the first time in the UFC that Silva came that close to losing a fight. The role the injury played in that first meeting was made apparent in the rematch between Silva and Sonnen. In that second go-around, a healthy Silva was able to knock out Sonnen in the second round.

Now instead of finding out about the injury to his rib after the fight, we’re hearing about it before his title defense against Chris Weidman at UFC 162 on July 6. Of course, Silva’s camp and the UFC are denying the injury is real, and there’s a chance that these are just rumors and nothing more. But if there really is any truth to the rumors, it could have a significant impact on Silva’s upcoming fight.

A two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, Weidman is expected to employ the same game plan as Sonnen: take Silva down and make him work off his back. Weidman, again much like Sonnen, may be aided by an injury to Silva’s rib.

If Silva is truly hurt and the rib injury isn’t just a mild discomfort—or a completely false rumor altogether—he would be unwise to continue with the fight despite the negative reaction he would receive from the fans.

“Silva is running away. He’s just afraid of Weidman,” fans may say.

Although that thought might pop into the minds of fans should Silva withdraw, nothing could be further from the truth. If this rib injury is serious in nature, it would be vastly unwise to risk a fight with Weidman, a man who already has all of the tools to defeat Silva.

It’s too big of a risk with Silva being as dominant of a champion as he is and being the legend fans speak of. Weidman will surely do the same thing as Sonnen, but Weidman is different in two ways—he is more likely to knock opponents out with his ground-and-pound and he doesn’t have a reputation for getting caught in submissions.

Sonnen battered Silva over four and a half rounds, but Silva’s face didn’t look like it had been damaged too severely. With Weidman, Silva is entering the cage with a man who mauled Mark Munoz. This is also a man who holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has a submission repertoire honed at the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Weidman is an aggressive fighter, but one who is savvy enough to avoid making the same mistakes that cost Sonnen a victory.

Although Weidman might not be the glitzy, famous opponent Silva enjoys fighting, he has the tools necessary to defeat him. Wrestling is Silva’s kryptonite and Weidman’s wrestling credentials run deep, from high school state wrestling championships to All-American honors at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University. With that resume, Weidman stands as Lex Luthor to Silva’s Superman.

Weidman is essentially Chael Sonnen 2.0 with an upgrade in power and submission skills, just without the ability to hype a fight. If a rib injury adversely affected Silva to a significant extent in his first fight with Sonnen, a similar injury would put him at a distinct disadvantage against an even more dangerous foe in this encounter.

Photo: Anderson Silva (Josh Hedges/Zuffa, LLC)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.