Anderson "Spyder" Silva's perch at the top of mixed martial arts as the best pound for pound fighter is not debated much.
Despite consensus that Silva is the best MMA fighter today, tomorrow most experts are picking Chris Weidman to topple the king.
Brazil's Silva (33-4) defends the UFC middleweight title against the undefeated Weidman (9-0) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday July 6. UFC 162 will be televised on pay-per-view beginning at 7 p.m.
Silva, 38, has dominated since first stepping into the Octagon back in June 28, 2006 when he knocked unconscious Chris Leben with a vicious knee in Las Vegas. It was Knockout of the Night on that occasion and soon his legend soared.
Four months later Silva defeated Rich Franklin to wrest the middleweight title and has pounded his way to 14 consecutive victories since that day in October 2006. Champions have come and gone and come back again as Silva dominated the 185-pound landscape with his combination of kicks, elbows, defense and submission holds.
Now experts are crossing onto the other side of the street and predicting Weidman will beat Silva.
"If you look at what my UFC Tonight co-host Chael Sonnen did to Silva – he won all five completed rounds over two fights – and not just kind of slightly won. He dominated, and Weidman is a bigger, stronger, younger and harder-hitting version of Chael," said Ken Florian. "I don't think there is any fighter in the world who can hope to beat Anderson on the feet, but I think Weidman can and will get this to the ground and, once there, I expect him to be in a huge position to win the fight."
Most experts feel Silva's weakness is on the ground where wrestlers have the superiority. Though Silva has beaten wrestlers in the past, they do have a pretty good record in remaining conscious against the Brazilian and have always given him a rough time in the Octagon.
"Weidman will be able to take Anderson down, and do serious damage when he does so. Weidman has a great ground game, and that's where Anderson has shown vulnerabilities, said Michael Bisping. "Also, you have to factor in that Anderson has been doing this for a very long time now. He's put his body through a lot in the gym over the years and we all get old eventually."
Most point toward Weidman's success as a NCAA wrestling champion in college. His best pro MMA win came against Mark Munoz a year ago.
"I believe it's a bad matchup for Anderson Silva. Very bad, style wise. Anderson's weaknesses are Weidman's strengths. I've trained with Weidman and his wrestling is on another level," said Canada's Georges St. Pierre, who many consider the second best MMA fighter today. "Not only is Chris Weidman going to beat Anderson Silva, I believe he's going to finish Anderson."
Former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar (14-4-1) fights Charles Oliveira (16-3) in a featherweight scrap.
Palm Springs Cub Swanson (19-5) continues his quest for a featherweight title shot and has Dennis Siver (21-8) in his way.
Roger Gracie (6-1) tries out hard-hitting middleweight veteran Tim Kennedy (15-4).
Tim Boetsch (16-5) battles Mark Munoz (12-3) in a middleweight conflict.
Veteran Chris Leben (22-9) fights Andrew Craig (8-1) in a middleweight match.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV