You could stand Chris Weidman up at the gates of hell and he wouldn’t back down. So when he was faced with the daunting task of having to defeat the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, Anderson Silva, not once, but twice in just under 6 months – he stood his ground, and then some.
The mind games started before they stepped into that octagon on that unforgettable night in Vegas. At the pre-fight press conference, the champion asked the challenger to hold the belt with him. The challenger obliged.
At the weigh-in, Silva got so close to Weidman that their lips touched. Again, Weidman didn’t back down.
When Silva continued to employ his mind games, the same games that kept him a champion for over six and a half years, Weidman continued to come forward. At that point it seemed that Silva had already won. He abandoned the takedowns that had worked so well for Chael Sonnen in his two fights with Silva, and found himself in a stand up war with the deadliest and most accurate striker we’ve seen inside of the cage. But Weidman wouldn’t fall into the trap that had worked for Silva so often in previous fights. It was almost like he was going after the boss in the final level of a video game; he just kept throwing and pawing until he humanized ‘The Spider’ with one left hook, a left hook that would change the game forever.
“I was ready for it, It pisses me off when someone tries to do that to me. I just knew little by little, I was going to creep on him, and when he slept, I was going to get him,” Weidman told Joe Rogan immediately after he knocked Silva out cold.
He became the first man in UFC history to finish Silva and would take his belt in the process, yet he still wasn’t getting the respect he deserved following this finish. Many would call it a ‘lucky shot’ claiming that if Silva didn’t clown so hard he would still be the champ. Weidman knew he’d have to beat Silva twice since day one all along. He told us that he’d defend his belt against Silva in Brazil before their first fight even took place. Weidman would conquer Silva again the second time around. It would end in an even freakier and more violent fashion than before, and it’s now likely that he’ll never have to face him again.
In 2013, Chris Weidman went from being a scary up and coming middleweight with championship aspirations to being one of the UFC’s most wanted. Now that Silva’s reign is over, prepare to usher in the golden era of the UFC middleweight division, and Weidman is in the drivers seat. Behind him sits a busload of dangerous fighters ready to take on the ‘All-American’ and take that strap right back to Brazil. Next up it’s Vitor. If he can beat him it’s likely Machida, then Souza. You could argue that the murderers row that awaits Weidman will make his run as champion a lot tougher than Silva’s. Just don’t expect him to take anyone lightly, and do not, I repeat, do not expect him to back down.
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Silva drops Overeem (UFC 156), Belfort’s head kick hat-trick (UFC on FX 7, UFC on FX 8, UFN 32), Johnson stops Benavidez (UFC on FOX 9), Newton’s spinning back fist KO of King Mo (Bellator 90), Pettis liver kicks Cerrone (UFC on FOX 6), Hunt topples Struve (Fuel TV 8), Diaz storms Maynard (TUF 18 Finale)
image credit – Getty