In my opinion one of the most intriguing bouts featured on UFC 210 is the middleweight co-main event clash between Chris Weidman and Gegard Mousasi. This fight represents a divergence from established booking conventions with former champion Weidman currently on a two fight skid, facing Gegard Mousasi who is enjoying a resurgence in his UFC career, having amassed four victories in an impressive 2016.
While Weidman is certainly no slouch on the feet – his signature victory against Anderson Silva came as a result of his boxing prowess – the American will most likely find himself outmatched striking with the more technical Mousasi. Weidman’s striking predominantly revolves around his wrestlers mentality of coming forward with unfaltering tenacity, primarily as a means of pursuing a takedown. Criticism of the former champions striking rose to prevalence following a botched spinning-back-kick that hastened the loss of his title against Luke Rockhold.
His opponent carries an impressive undefeated kickboxing record into the cage, with a victory over Japanese legend Musashi to boot. Mousasi also has an extensive background in pugilism, having won a national youth title in the sweet science as a teen. In this fight, he will aim to establish his jab to negate the aforementioned pressure of the American which I believe he will do successfully.
Both men have an array of grappling offence at their disposal with a combined 15 submission victories between them. Weidman showed an aptitude for submission grappling the moment he started, going on to reach the ADCC submission wrestling quarter finals with just a years worth of formal jiu jitsu training. This has been evident in his UFC career, utilising smothering top pressure to provide an opportunity to apply a choke.
Mousasi on the other hand adopts a different style of grappling derived from his Judo background which has resulted in submission victories against the likes of Mark Hunt and Mark Munoz. Mousasi also has a very active guard which may lead Weidman to hesitate whist pursuing the takedown.
I believe that both man’s defence is sufficient to prevent a submission provided they haven’t been rocked from strikes.
If there is an area that Weidman would most prefer to dictate the fight towards it would be wrestling. The ‘All American’ earned his nickname by placing at the NCAA finals two years in a row while attending Hofstra University. His skills have since translated effortlessly to MMA, having scored a takedown in every single one of his UFC fights.
Meanwhile The Dutchman is certainly no slouch in the wrestling department either, having defended nearly 70% of the takedowns he has faced in the UFC.
The real question then, is whether Weidman will be able to use his superior wrestling pedigree to neutralise the Dutchman’s varied technical offence for the entirety of the three rounds. It may come down to a test of cardiovascular endurance with both men conditioned to fight for five rounds. I believe that although Weidman will have success imposing his will during the early stages of the fight, Mousasi’s current momentum and diversified arsenal will prove enough to earn him a decision victory.
Prediction: Mousasi by decision.