If it isn't broken, there's no need to fix it.
That's the mentality of Ray Longo, trainer to UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, as the two prepare the champion for his rematch with Anderson Silva at UFC 168 later this month.
Weidman shocked most observers when he not only defeated Silva, but knocked the middleweight kingpin unconscious in the second round of their UFC 162 bout, becoming the first man to ever do that to Silva ever in the Brazilian's MMA career. He also became the first to defeat him in the Octagon. As the Long Island pair prepare to face the Brazilian again, Longo is keeping things steady, but adding a few wrinkles to the game.
After all, if everything worked out the first time, why should the second go-round be radically different?
"We kind of kept it similar, " Longo told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "We brought in a boxer from upstate who's really good, fast hands, southpaw, 185 [pounds]. I think the sparring was a little better for this fight. We kind of kept the same guys, but added some guys."
While Longo didn't go into a ton of detail on who was and wasn't in camp with Weidman, one of the key ingredients in the first camp was borrowing from the kicking expertise of UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson. Longo said it was a no-brainer when it came to bringing him back. Of all the sparring partners they had to prepare for Silva's unorthodox style, Thompson was the best in preparing Weidman for what he was going to face.
"Yeah, [Stephen Thompson]'s here right now. He's been here the past week or two," he said. "He's awesome. He's always a big help. His father's awesome. He's awesome. They know how to work. His kicks are good. His kicks are probably some of the best I've ever seen. He's very fast. Again, great sparring partner. Great guy. Yeah, big addition."
Things are going so well, according to Longo, they'd prefer to fight this upcoming Saturday. They're trying to stay even keel about it all, but if they had their druthers, this bout will be contested right away.
"We just try to, again, put it in perspective. Not doing too much media. I think he's turned down a few things in the past few weeks.
"Listen, he's ready to go tomorrow. So, we're ready. As of right now I could tell you I wish the fight was Saturday. We got a little extra leeway and if he wants to do some interviews at this point, no harm done. His weight is perfect, He's been an animal in the gym. His sparring is perfect. Everything is point-on. We're looking for a great fight."
All of that could be true, but what about Silva? The former champion has admitted he made correctable mistakes in his first meeting with Weidman. That would imply he's going to make changes. If Silva makes adjustments, doesn't that require Weidman to do the same?
Longo isn't so sure. For starters, he isn't discounting the idea Silva is just as dangerous as ever. "No, I don't think he's done as a fighter," Longo contends. "As far as getting in a dogfight, I don't know about that. As a fighter, I'm sure there's still 95 percent of people he could beat up and torture. I just think he's got the wrong guy in front of him."
As Longo sees it, the relevant issue in this entire equation is who people are and what sort of fighters they show themselves to be. Longo believes Silva will probably make some adjustments in their upcoming fight. Most notably, he expects some of the 'clowning' antics Silva showed in the first fight to not be as prevalent as before.
In the end, though, Longo believes Silva is who he is at this point and that's the guy Weidman is going to end up beating.
"I think he'll probably start off a little differently and then he'll revert back to what he always does. I think it's woven into the fabric of who Anderson Silva is. That's what he does. Watch his fights. There isn't one fight where he didn't mug a guy or try to goof around.
"The Octagon doesn't lie, man," Longo argues. "That's one thing. I think it parallels life. It'll show you who you are and I think that's who he is. I think that's going to be hard for him to change."
It stands to reason based on Longo's assessments of things that his star protege is going to stop the all-time great with strikes again. Again, if this is the first camp with minor tweaks all over again and Silva is who he is, wouldn't the outcome be roughly the same?
It could be, Longo concedes, but there might be an interesting twist fans could expect.
"I think we're looking at a submission this time. Let's diversify!" Longo jokes.
"I think there's a good chance, yeah. [Weidman] looks point-on with everything. Whatever he feels like doing, I think he can take this fight wherever he wants to. We know we're going to play to our strengths like we normally would and I think we'll have to wait and see what happens."
Ultimately, Longo believes in Weidman and in the process by which Weidman can produce victory. Even if the finish is different, Longo knows it's going to come the same way the first one did.
"[Weidman]'s walking forward in this fight," Longo says, "and he's going to get what he wants."