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The Rise and Fall of Chris Weidman

            “Stop doubting me! That’s enough! Join the team; this is the last invitation,”

Chris Weidman yelled into the mic after his First Round TKO of the legend Vitor Belfort, defending his UFC Middleweight Belt. That was his last title defense before losing the belt. Chris “All-American” Weidman was 13-0 (9-0 UFC) and looking like he really could be considered one of the best to compete. His resume in the UFC had Demian Maia, Mark Munoz, Lyoto Machida, and one of the greatest ever, Anderson Silva, twice. How could you not be on the team after another victory of a true legend? He was the man. He had the look, was a family man, his camp was filled with big personalities, and he had the skill to take and defend the title.

Chris joined the UFC after only four professional fights. He took his first UFC fight on short notice and winning my decision against a tough Alessio Sakara. He then got two submission finishes in a row defeating Jesse Bongfeldt and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Chris then took a tough fight against a top middleweight in Demian Maia on 11-day notice. After a hard-fought three rounds Chris pulled ahead and won by split decision. Placing him in the top of the middleweight division. His final test to see if he was ready for a title shot was a surging Mark Munoz. Both were on a UFC four fight winning streak against top guys. Chris dominated Munoz with his wrestling in the first round and then secured a beautiful KO with a standing elbow finishing Mark.

Chris was then put into his first UFC title fight against one of the greatest to ever fight and the current middleweight champ Anderson “the spider” Silva. Many fans thought Chris was going to just be another victim for Anderson, but fellow fighters understood Chris posed many threats to him. Chris was able to take Anderson down in the first and land some good ground and pound. But in the second Anderson was clowning around, like he does to get in the head of his opponents, Chris caught him and KO’d him securing the title and ending Anderson’s long title reign. Anderson got an immediate rematch. Anderson was more cautious in the rematch. Chris dropped Anderson in the first and easily won the round. What happened in the second has been burned into every MMA fans mind who have seen the fight. While Anderson threw a leg kick Chris checked it, throwing his knee into Anderson shin, snapping his leg in two. That ended the fight, giving Chris another victory over the great Anderson and one of the most brutal endings to a fight I’ve ever seen.



            Chris’ second title defensive came in the form of another Brazilian Lyoto Machida. After a fight of the night performance, Chris won his fight by decision in a back and forth fight. Following that fight, Chris was scheduled to face Vitor Belfort but unfortunately, Chris suffered from a broken hand and had to reschedule. When they finally met up and fought Vitor seemed to have Chris in trouble early in the first round. Chris was able to survive and overcome the challenge and take Vitor down and finish the fight from strikes from mount. It was starting to seem Chris was going to be around for a while but his next challenger didn’t believe in the hype.

Chris and Luke didn’t seem to care for each other, plus the fact that they’re fighting for the belt made everything more heated between the two. People were torn between who would win this fight. Luke with his kicks and strong top game or Chris with his heart and wrestling. After two and a half back and forth rounds Chris went for a wheel kick that just may have ended his championship reign. Luke easily dodged the kick and got a hold of Chris’s back.  He was then able to force him to the ground and dominate him from mount. Many thought the fight should have been ended before going into the fourth, but Chris survived. After coming out in the fourth, Luke easily got a clearly-dazed Chris to the ground and beat on him until the ref had no choice but to call the fight ending Chris’ title reign.

Chris faced some neck injuries after that fight and was off for eleven months. He came back to face the number one contender Yoel Romero. This was the first UFC event in New York after recently being legalized in the state and Chris, a native New Yorker, had to be on the card. The fight was back and forth going into the third round. Very early in the third, Chris shoots for a double leg and gets caught by a flying knee then gets pounded out by Yoel. Chris then faced another top challenger Gegard Mousasi in the second New York card. After a controversial ending where the ref was unclear if the knees to Chris’ head was illegal or legal. It was ruled Gegard was the winner by TKO.

Chris now not only facing his first losses in MMA but facing three in a row. After being the undefeated king, he now has to accept his new path for redemption. This came in the form of Kelvin Gastelum. In Chris’ third fight in a row in the state of New York, he would finally get that much wanted hometown win. But it wasn’t without its scares. Kelvin at the end of the first round dropped Chris with a right hook left straight combo. Chris would rally and get an arm-triangle choke in the third round snapping his three-fight losing streak.

After suffering another injury, tearing a ligament in his thumb and having surgery, Chris returned after a year and three months. He faced Ronald “Jacare” Souza. Jacare replaced Chris’s original opponent Luke Rockhold and the much-anticipated rematch. Chris was on his way to winning the fight by decision. Chris was outlanding Jacare and controlling the pace and where the fight took place. Midway through the third and final round, Jacare caught Chris and KO’d him.

Chris is now 1-4 in his last five with all the losses coming by way of finish. Some say you only have a certain number of hits before you become more susceptible to getting knocked out. Others say once you been knocked out the easier it becomes. Either way it seems Chris has his limits. What should fighters do after this has become apparent? No one really knows, some, like Freddy Roach encourage their fighters to take a year off to give them rest, others like Frankie Edgar want to jump right back into the cage. Which leaves us with these questions; What happened to Chris and can he become one of the greats again? I truly hope so. Many fighters now seem to be moving up in weight and become completely different and better fighters. Like Anthony Smith who seemed to just be a good middleweight moving up to light heavyweight and destroying his competition. I think Chris could do well moving up and testing the waters at light heavyweight. While he may be fighting bigger guys, I think he’ll look healthier from not cutting all that weight and it may just be what his body needs to recover.

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