The UFC returns with more action this Saturday in Las Vegas. This card will feature Chris Weidman vs Omari Akhmedov in a middleweight bout that is bound to entertain. Ahead of this bout, I take a look at each fighter and give my prediction for how I think the fight will go. Who do you have winning this one?!
After winning the UFC Middleweight Championship, Chris Weidman looked like he was going to reign supreme at the top of the division for a lengthy period of time. Unfortunately, in his very next fight, he was destroyed by Luke Rockhold after being taken down. Since the Rockhold fight, things haven’t been the same for Weidman.
In his next matchup, he was given the UFC’s boogeyman in Yoel Romero. After a solid fight that Weidman was almost winning, Yoel unleashed a brutal flying knee, abruptly ending the fight.
Next up, Weidman faced Gegard Mousasi. After a tough fight, Mousasi landed some contentious knees. With Weidman hanging down, Mousasi lifted Weidman up just enough to land the knees legally, thus, stopping the fight.
After Mousasi, Weidman was able to bounce back with a feel-good win over Kelvin Gastelum. Fighting in Long Island, New York, Weidman earned an emotional win. After grinding out the first two rounds with his wrestling and decent boxing, Weidman took Gastelum down and sunk in the arm triangle, submitting his foe. This was his most recent victory.
After that, Weidman faced Ronaldo Souza, one of the best fighters to never get a UFC title shot. After a slugfest, a tired Jacare whacked Weidman with a shot that flatlined him.
Weidman’s last fight was a venture up to 205 pounds, fighting Dominick Reyes. Once again, Weidman was knocked out, brutally.
Unfortunately for Chris, there seems to be one constant factor at play here. All of the stoppages have been via TKO/KO. This is usually a sure-fire sign that someone is ‘past it’. However, there’s still something about Weidman that makes me think a late surge is possible.
When he first arrived in the UFC, Akhmedov was known for finishing fights, and usually quickly. In his first 11, he had racked up six KO’s and five submissions. Since then, it seems to have been decision win after decision win for the Russian.
An International Master of Sport in Combat Sambo, Akhmedov has some serious grappling pedigree. In addition to the grappling, he has a very good fundamentally sound striking game as well. Usually a kickboxing style, Akhmedov does the basics very well. He possesses a good jab, solid hooks, and nice body kicks, all to compliment world-class wrestling.
Since facing Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, the Russian has won five of his last six, with one coming as a draw. A stark difference to Weidman’s last six fights. However, these wins came against much lower competition.
Weidman vs Akhmedov Keys to Victory
For Weidman, he needs to utilize his length. Without being insulting, his chin isn’t the same anymore, so he can’t withstand the same level of damage. Whilst he hasn’t had the opportunity to show it, Weidman has good boxing. The lack of head movement is worrying, however, as a whole, his boxing is sound.
The main stand-up weapon for Weidman will almost always be his 1-2 combination. It comes fast. Sometimes perfectly straight, other sometimes loopy, but he’s a sniper with it. Before getting KO’d, he was piecing Jacare up with it.
This combination is something that will be needed by Weidman in this fight, as he will need to land on the feet whilst staying long. As the weight classes go up, the volume of punches often does as well, but Weidman has always had an ability to throw volume from odd angles.
Whilst Jacare is ducking and weaving, Weidman counters it with a 1-2 into a right uppercut followed by a left hook. Whilst maybe not fight-ending punches, it adds up the damage.
I think Weidman would be smart to attempt takedowns, however, I’m not sure if he will get them off. Whilst brilliant at takedowns, especially the single leg-grab he favors, Akhmedov is a solid wrestler himself with commendable takedown defense. If he can get Akhmedov down, I see Weidman having the advantage on top, and possibly getting a submission.
A lot gets made of Weidman’s wrestling, forgetting the number of hours spent training at the pinnacle of BJJ, under Renzo Gracie. Whilst having Renzo and Matt Serra as BJJ coaches, he has also spent considerable time working with John Danaher. The Charles Darwin of BJJ.
With that in mind, I give Weidman the edge in the grappling department, which he should really look to implement if possible.
Akhmedov has a bit of a ‘throw everything into every single punch and hopes it takes someone’s head off’ style of striking. It’s a bit wild, and a bit unusual, but it’s a lot more dangerous than his many decision victories would lead you to believe. He does have sound fundamentals when not trying to take your head off, however. Again, like Weidman, Akhmedov has a solid jab and a ferocious left hook.
As well as boxing, Akhmedov has kicks in his arsenal. Nothing too wild, but his front-leg body roundhouse is beautiful. He throws it mid-step as he’s circling out and often lands flush on the opponent. It’s an odd kick from an odd angle, hence the success it has.
His main stand-up weapon would be his strikes whilst on the defensive. They’re not perfectly accurate, but they are brutal. One of the few examples to show is his knockout against Thiago Perpétuo.
After starting the fight with a lunge into close range that caused a headbutt, Akhmedov was dropped twice. Ever the madman, instead of backing off he forced Perpétuo against the fence, landed a huge left hook but got clipped in return and retreated. Whilst moving back, it was a right hook that almost decapitated Perpétuo.
Another good example of this is the Marvin Vettori draw. A back and forth fight, Akhmedov clipped Vetorri over and over again with the exact same flurry of hooks. The only difference is this time it was Akhmedov pushing the pace.
A Combat Sambo International Master, Akhmedov has all the grappling credentials to hang with Weidman. With typical Russian-like pressure when on top, Akhmedov gives you feelings of claustrophobia just watching him smother his opponents.
Another man that has trained with the world’s elite, Akhmedov has spent considerable time with Eagles MMA in Dagestan, where Khabib Nurmagomedov is the Club President. It will be interesting to see how Akhmedov fares on the bottom if he ends up there.
Weidman vs Akhmedov Fight Prediction
With Weidman needing the win, and Akhmedov possibly coming to the limit of his abilities in the UFC, I think this one is Weidman’s for the taking. He should be stronger in every department overall. However, with the haymakers Akhmedov is known to throw, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sixth KO loss for Weidman.
Overall, my pick is Chris Weidman by decision. I think he will have too much experience and is too well rounded for Akhmedov to compete.
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