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Chris Weidman’s UFC 162 hype train reaching full capacity

Out of 18 fighters polled by the UFC, 14 picked Weidman to beat Silva and four were undecided

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Chris Weidman goes through striking exercises during a workout for the media Wednesday, July 3, 2013 in advance of UFC 162.

UFC 162 - Workout

Anderson Silva smiles during a workout for the media Wednesday, July 3, 2013 in advance of UFC 162. Launch slideshow »

UFC President Dana White urged Georges St. Pierre to wait just a month before booking his next fight.

White wanted Saturday’s UFC 162 middleweight championship bout between Anderson Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC) and Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) to play out before planning St. Pierre’s future.

He figured if Silva won, the two longest-tenured champions in the UFC could meet in a superfight before the end of the year. But St. Pierre was adamant about setting up his next welterweight title defense immediately.

To him, there was no point in White’s idea.

“Georges St. Pierre is so convinced that Anderson Silva won’t beat Weidman that he said, ‘I’m not going to waste my time trying to get ready for that fight,’” White said.

The most jarring part is that St. Pierre isn’t the only one who believes Weidman will stomp “The Spider” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It’s normally a fruitless exercise to seek out anyone picking against Silva, widely considered the best fighter in mixed martial arts history, before a fight.

The opposite is true at UFC 162. Finding one of Silva’s peers who backs him in Saturday’s main event is as difficult as winning a fight by an omoplata submission in the octagon.

Even Weidman himself is surprised by the support he’s drawn against an opponent who doesn’t have a legitimate loss in nearly a decade.

“Silva’s the greatest all-time and it’s cool to see people think I can beat him,” Weidman said at Wednesday’s UFC 162 open workouts. “It’s one thing when it’s guys who train with me. But when it’s guys who don’t even train with me, don’t know me that well, it’s like, ‘Whoa, how did that happen?’”

Two of the other fighters on the card who attended Wednesday’s festivities, former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and rising featherweight Cub Swanson, called for a Weidman victory. The UFC recently sent out a press release with 18 of its biggest stars giving a prediction on Silva vs. Weidman.

Fourteen of them picked Weidman. The other four didn’t pick Silva, either. They just said the UFC 162 main event was too close to call and could go either way.

“I get my Google alerts,” Weidman said, leaning back in his seat. “I see some things. I haven’t been looking at them recently, because there’s too many of them.”

Those siding with the challenger almost unanimously cite his stylistic advantages against the champion. Like Chael Sonnen, who was 90 seconds from stealing the middleweight belt three years ago, Weidman has a strong wrestling background that should allow him to take Silva down.

And his submission chops are among the sharpest in the 185-pound division, which should keep him out of trouble once on the ground.

Silva, as usual, hasn’t talked at length about his opponent. He answered a couple questions about Weidman with one-word answers at the open workout, but did state that he had no problem with all his doubters on Tuesday’s UFC Tonight television show.

“This is good because it’s very important for people to talk, talk, talk and the fans watch the fight,” Silva said. “The fans watch Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. Weidman has fans, I have fans.”

Weidman’s not apologetic for already derailing the Silva vs. St. Pierre superfight talk once. He’s positive he’ll do it again at UFC 162, and this time, for good.

That so many others bought into that proclamation was unexpected to Weidman, but not unsettling.

“When I got into this sport, I wanted to be No. 1,” Weidman said. “I wanted to have this kind of pressure on me. This is where I wanted to be the whole time.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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