Much more than a title on the line for Weidman and Machida


Chris Weidman has a monkey on his back. He might not know it, or perhaps, he’s decided not to acknowledge this metaphorical little primate’s existence. But, sure enough, it’s there.

Why? Because despite twice finishing the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva, in winning and then defending the middleweight championship, the nature of those victories and, in turn, the legitimacy of his title are still the source of great debate.

Such is the justified reverence with which Silva is held, the idea that anyone could beat him was so scarcely believable that there are those-despite the overwhelming evidence-that remain incredulous Weidman could neutralise him so comprehensively once, let alone twice.

After Weidman rendered the Spider unconscious in their initial bout, the mass consensus was that Silva, due to his theatrics, had beat himself. The new champion, so went the narrative, had landed a lucky punch and would be duly put in his place come the rematch.

Again, why? It was by no means the first time Silva had goaded or downright mocked a more often than not, hapless opponent. Thales Leites, Forrest Griffin, Demian Maia, Yushin Okami and Stephan Bonnar had all received similar treatment, but none of them had the fortitude or skill to land that seismic left hook.

Of course, considering the Spider’s utter dominance of 185lbs landscape for close to seven years, he was more than entitled to getting first crack at Weidman. The brass declared it so, and he in turn assured the world “trust me, I back.”

At UFC 168, as the promotion closed the curtain on an exceptionally fruitful 2013, the scene was set for balance to be restored. The anomaly that was the first match would soon be rectified, and Weidman would be exposed for the fortunate charlatan he truly was.

Surely not, could lightning strike twice? Yet again it all finished before the close of the second round with a triumphant Weidman standing over his vanquished foe. The sight of Silva in agony as he clutched his mangled leg was unfortunate, and not befitting of such a singular talent.
Still there were doubters. Weidman’s checking of Silva’s kick were not intended for such effect, so obviously, the victory was tainted.

Once again, why? What about the previous lob-sided 6 minutes and 15 seconds, during which the American floored Silva, took him down, attempted a submission and landed more than half of his attempted strikes. The writing was on the wall, plain to see, time to move on.

At the post fight presser it was announced Vitor Belfort would be Weidman’s next opponent but, without a boost of TRT, Vitor ultimately declined or was pulled from the fight by the UFC depending on who is to be believed. Step forward Lyoto Machida 2.0 for Saturday night’s UFC 175.

Much like Weidman, the Dragon, particularly towards the end of his time at light-heavyweight, has been subjected to his share of criticism. The thought being that his mixed record since losing his title to Shogun Rua clearly shows he’s a spent force.

His past two fights, in addition to his seamless transition to 185 lbs, make a compelling argument against that contention. Nevertheless, he is the underdog and, like the man he seeks to usurp was in his last two fights, is expected to lose.

This is why there is an added dynamic at play here as supposed to a regular title fight. The desire to wear the middleweight strap is not the only goal these guys share.

A comprehensive or spectacular victory for either should quell all those niggling doubts which by now, must have crept into their subconscious as result of the continued questioning of their respective places in the MMA universe.

Forgetting all that for a moment, it’s also an incredibly fascinating match-up. A brief look at Weidman’s CV shows that outside Silva, he has never faced a striker even close to Machida’s ability. How, or if he deals with latter’s perpetual movement and elusive counter-fighting may decide the fight.

Conversely, despite the Brazilian being adept at stuffing takedowns, Weidman will be the first wrestler he has encountered with a genuine stand-up game; see Bader, Couture and Davis.

What this all amounts to is a world title bout between two men who, regardless of the all the subjective ranting, are at the peak of their powers and, whether they like it or not, must give the performance of a lifetime to emerge beyond reproach, most importantly in their own eyes.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.