Weidman is actually taking this fight on short notice, stepping in for the injured Rafael Natal. Amazingly, Weidman comes into this fight with only four pro fights to his credit.
Weidman is 4-0, with two wins via TKO/KO and a win via submission. He’s a former two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler and has also qualified for the prestigious ADCC submission grappling tournament.
Conversely, Sakara comes into this fight with a career record of 15-7, with nine wins via TKO/KO and two via submission. He has quietly won his last three fights and four out of his last five.
However, it’s been almost a year since Sakara last competed inside the Octagon, with injuries and illness forcing him to pull out of a couple of recent fights.
Sakara is renowned for his striking ability but also has a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt.
Of the bits and pieces of available footage on Weidman, he likes to bring the fight to his opponents, using his striking to set up his take-downs. But he also has a tendency to shoot in from a huge distance.
He’s still very raw, but I’m sure he’s improving each time out, as it appears that he picks things up really quickly.
Sakara is Sakara. You pretty much know what he’s going to do. He wants to strike and knock you out, even if he has to eat some punches in the process. He may have a BJJ brown belt, but we’ve rarely seen him use his ground game. Still, any opponent of his needs to be aware of his punching power.
I know Weidman is evolving and utilize different strategies to try and get this fight to the mat. There’s no sense in trading strikes with Sakara if he can get the take-down and go to work from there.
As for Sakara, he should stick with his patented sprawl-and-brawl tactics. He certainly doesn’t want to be underneath Weidman absorbing ground-and-pound shots. Classic wrestler vs. striker match-up here.
I almost always go with the wrestler in these instances unless the striker has ungodly takedown defense. I think Weidman will be able to get the take-down as long as he doesn’t telegraph his shots from a huge distance.
In that event, it’s possible that Sakara could catch him with strikes on the way in. I think Weidman controls Sakara on the ground and gets the TKO win or grinds out the decision here.