Looking back on it, Chris Weidman can admit that his second fight against Anderson Silva didn’t go like he wanted it to.
Oh, sure, he won – and that was clearly the desired outcome of his first title defense. He just didn’t want to have it happen with Silva on the ground, screaming in pain, then carried out on a stretcher to head straight to surgery.
That’s how Weidman capped off a crazy 2013 in the UFC when he got a second-round TKO against Silva in the main event of UFC 168. A checked kick broke Silva’s left leg in what may go down as the most famous injury in MMA history.
Weidman didn’t want to break his leg – but after getting kicked more than a few times their first fight at UFC 162, which Weidman won by knockout, the checks were part of the game plan. And when he checked Silva’s first kick, it spoke volumes.
“I checked his first kick pretty good, and I thought that was definitely a message to him, like, ‘Don’t kick me anymore,’ because I’m sure it hurt him a little bit,” Weidman recently told MMAjunkie. “And then when he went to kick me again, I saw it coming and checked it. When it landed right on my knee, I knew it would hurt him to where he probably wouldn’t be kicking me the rest of the fight, or he might be limping.”
But Weidman had no idea just how much damage he had done with the mere act of playing defense. Silva broke his tibia and fibula in one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of the sport.
The UFC middleweight champ, who next will defend his tittle against Vitor Belfort later this year in Las Vegas, said he couldn’t tell upon impact that Silva had broken his leg. But he knew right away something was askew.
“I wasn’t sure if he hurt his ankle, twisted his ankle, if it was his foot – I just knew he was in extreme pain and the fight was over,” Weidman said. “The amount of force he kicked me at, landing on my knee, I knew he was done for the fight. I’ve done that to people sparring, and they either have to take a round or two off, or walk it off when you kick someone as hard as you can and it lands on his knee.
“I didn’t know he broke his leg in half, pretty much, until the replay. Even when I was checking on him, I just knew he was in a lot of pain. I didn’t know until the replay what really happened.”
Weidman celebrated his victory, of course. But it was more muted than this past July when he beat Silva the first time. Honestly, it would take a special kind of cold-hearted fighter to be overly jubilant at seeing arguably the greatest fighter of all time carried out of the cage with, as Weidman said, his leg broke in half.
But if anyone wants to put an asterisk on this one like they did his first win over Silva – when critics said he won only because Silva was clowning and dropped his hands – they can just move right along.
Weidman believes that one way or another, Silva was in for a world of hurt that night in Las Vegas.
“It’s not the way I’d have wanted the fight to end, for sure. It’s not the most perfect ending I imagined. To see Anderson go out like that, I don’t like to see that – in a lot of pain, leg snapped in two. I don’t want to do that to anybody, so I do feel bad about that,” he said. “But I do know that I was the better fighter and I was going to finish the fight, regardless. I would rather have finished the fight in that first round when I dropped him or finished him at some point later on in the fight than break his leg in half. But that was the way it ended it up, and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Weidman now moves his attention to Belfort, whom he’s already had a few choice words for in regards to his therapeutic-use exemption for testosterone.
But one thing that the champ finds a little hard to wrap his head around is just how quick his progression has been in the sport. This March will be only his three-year anniversary in the UFC. Before his short-notice UFC debut in March 2011, he was living in his in-laws’ basement, just trying to make ends meet through fighting.
And the crazy thing, Weidman said, is that if the time he’s been sidelined with injuries or surgeries is factored out, he really hasn’t been doing this MMA thing very long at all. And that gives him a whole lot of encouragement going forward – believing that the world already has seen a good enough Chris Weidman to win a UFC title against the sport’s greatest active legend and defend it against him in a rematch. But how good can he really get?
“I feel like it’s been a very long time, but in actuality it hasn’t been that long. But I feel like I’ve been doing this forever,” he said. “I started in 2009 – that’s when I started training. I’ve had two surgeries where I was out for at least a year, another I was out three or four months, another that had me out three or four months … I’ve only actually been training for two or two and a half years, which is crazy. I’m very new, but it feels like forever.
“I have a lot to learn and a lot of things I do in practice that I haven’t been comfortable enough to do in the octagon yet. I haven’t shown my true self or true style yet. I’m excited to be able to do that over time. Experience is the main thing I’m working on.”
For complete coverage of UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.