When Chris Weidman started MMA in 2009, Anderson Silva had been the middleweight champion for years, with six fights as champion. Even then, in a field of champions - Frank Mir, Rashad Evans, GSP, BJ Penn - Silva was considered by many to be the best. He has demonstrably gotten much better since.
Anderson Silva's overarching excellent is inescapable, but Chris Weidman says it isn't getting into his head.
"Anderson has definitely beat a lot of guys before they even walked in the cage," said Weidman said. "He has a certain reputation that he's earned for himself, and he deserves that because he's beat the crap out of guys for a while. But he's not going to have that with me.
"I'm not going down because I'm not confident and just want to see how I do in there. I'm in there to win this fight, and that's it. I'm going for the finish. There's nothing he could do or say that's going to stop me. He's just another guy to me that I'm trying to tear through."
This is not simply empty bravado.
Weidman has a bachelor's degree in psychology, was a two-time Div I All American, has a brown belt from Matt Serra/Renzo Gracie, and is undefeated in MMA, most recently crushing highy decorated wrestler Mark Munoz.
Fans are drawing comparisons to the Chael Sonnen, who gave Anderson Silva his greatest test to date. However, Weidman says he can do more.
"I appreciate what they're saying," said Weidman. "But I also feel like I haven't gotten to show a lot of what I can do."
Weidman had his first professional training camp for this fight, under the tutelage of the almost mystical, almost mythical John Danaher. Danaher brought in kickboxer Stephen Thompson and boxer Adam Willett to mimic Silva's style.
In the end though, Weidman said it came down to hard work.
"There are no tricks," said Weidman. "It just comes down to every day, no matter who you're going with or what you're doing, working as hard as you possibly can. I did that before this camp, and now I just did it a little smarter. But I still did the same thing: Every time I come in, I just work as hard as I can."
"I'm prepared for a full five-round absolute war with things going his way and against me, just so I can battle through it and show heart, almost show a Frankie Edgar-like heart."
"I'm ready for that, but I'm also ready to take him down and submit him away. I'm ready to punch him in the face and knock him out. That would be ideal. But either way, a victory is good for me."
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