Couture coach: I think Chris is going to take it
B/R’s Michael Stets interviewed Neil Melanson, head grappling coach of Xtreme Couture, about Saturday’s main event between champion Anderson Silva and challenger Chris Weidman
Michael Stets: Would you agree that the combination Weidman has – a good wrestling base combined with high level jiu-jitsu – is a bad combination for Silva? Especially when you look at how Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson could take Silva down, but they couldn’t attack with submissions the way Weidman can and has shown already.
Neil Melanson: Weidman is definitely better on the ground than those guys. He should be able to hold him down, put good shots on him, land some good damage and he should also be able to have an opportunity to submit him. I think Chris is going to take it.
The thing about it too is he seems very confident. I talked to Matt Serra the other day, and he said, ‘man, he is so dialed in mentally.’ He raved about him as a person. He’s a guy you want to cheer for. He’s kind of like an everyday American that works hard. He’s a beast, and I want him to win.
MS: How much does having confidence help and prepare you for a guy like Silva? You see so many guys that end up like a deer in headlights. To me, it’s half the battle. If you’re not confident, it’s like the fight is already lost.
NM: Confidence is definitely a big factor. I think most fighters I know pray upon that, having that good confidence. But, unfortunately what I’ve noticed with most fighters is they’re so dependent on protecting their ego that they don’t push. They don’t bring in enough hard partners in training camp.
They have to be winning all the time. Some guys, they can’t lose in training—otherwise they fall apart. That’s a bad thing. You want to build your confidence up by having a hard training camp and bringing in tough guys. You shouldn’t feel confident by just beating up on scrubs.
I know athletes out there, and I won’t say their names. That’s exactly where their confidence comes from. They just want to beat up on nobodies and they go out there and they don’t want to be pushed.
MS: We know Weidman obviously has to get it to the ground. He isn’t on the same level of striking as Silva. We’ve seen Henderson get him down. We’ve seen Sonnen get him down. Technique-wise, how does he use his boxing to close distance and get Silva on the ground?
NM: Well, I’m not going to give any advice on how to strike with Anderson Silva, that’s for sure. The one thing that I think is going to be important is pressure. You were talking about confidence earlier.
If you watch Anderson when he fights, he kind of feels things out. He’s very confident in his chin. There’s a certain point where you can visibly notice he gets loose. It’s like a few minutes in, maybe it’s the second round or it’s halfway through the first, where all the sudden his shoulders just kind of change, and he just gets loose. You can see his confidence in his eyes and his poise.
When he’s in that mode, he’s going to be creative. When you have confidence like that, you are going to be creative, you are going to be able to improvise very easily. The stress is off you; you have that full belief in yourself.
I think what Chris needs to do is put pressure and hammer into Anderson, so he doesn’t get into that comfort zone and he starts to have a little doubt. And feel the pressure to have to be perfect or he can’t miss…When he is relaxed like that, he’s just got it.
Like when he knocked out Vitor. I trained Vitor for that whole camp. Vitor was waiting and waiting and then, all the sudden, you see Anderson get a little loose, and then that kick comes out of nowhere—perfect target, perfect execution, it was impressive. I don’t think he can hang out on the outside. I think if he does that, Silva will be able to finish him.
MS: What round do you think he wins it in?
NM: I don’t know. If it went five, I would imagine that Weidman would win the decision. I can’t see Silva winning a lot of rounds. I see Silva knocking him out or not. That’s pretty much how I see it.