Rocker Tom Petty sang “I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down” as Chris Weidman walked to the cage to defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown at UFC 168 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Petty, a heartbreaker, was a songwriter who always checked leg kicks.
Six months after their first fight, Weidman and former champion Anderson Silva selected the same walkout songs for their rematch. Both matches between the world’s two best middleweights ended inside the second round under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Off the album Full Moon Fever, Petty’s single “I Won’t Back Down” has been Weidman’s calling card on his run to the middleweight title. The 29-year-old Weidman began using Petty’s song of defiance at UFC 139, where the Long Island, N.Y., fighter met Tom Lawlor. George Harrison, of The Beatles, famously provided backup vocals for Petty on his 1989 song. The soothing tones of coach Ray Longo’s voice in Weidman’s corner harmonized perfectly with a fighter out to prove his first win over “The Spider” was not a fluke.
Silva may be one of the biggest fans of the 2001 Steve Segal film “Exit Wounds.” The former longtime boss of the UFC’s 185-pound division, Silva has marched out to DMX’s “No Sunshine” for the majority of his trips inside the Octagon. A somber track about the dichotomy between a person’s strengths and weaknesses, Silva made the five-minute rap song work for all of his UFC appearances before Weidman knocked him out at UFC 162.
Weidman was the aggressor from the opening bell in the rematch. A punch from the clinch hurt Silva midway through the first round, and Weidman spent the remainder of the period pounding on the 38-year-old Brazilian’s skull. The fight came to a screeching halt in the second frame after Silva threw an inside leg kick and Weidman stood strong. Silva suffered a broken leg, and Weidman retained the middleweight belt in a bizarre and unsettling TKO finish.
Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey and her menacing game face should sprint to the cage, with Joan Jett’s first solo track, “Bad Reputation,” clocking in at an armbar-snapping 2:48. By the time Rousey makes her first paces inside the cage, Jett’s punk track has already restarted in the arena loudspeakers. With the gift of gab outside the cage and an all-business approach inside the eight-sided fence, Rousey and “Bad Reputation” was a match made in MMA walkout heaven. Rousey’s bad rep is a preview of her direct intentions towards any opponent put in front of her.
If you have to counter one of the sport’s best entrance songs, then you might as well go to the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum. Miesha Tate selected pop icon Katy Perry’s 2013 single “Roar” as the soundtrack to her rematch with Rousey. With a type of empowerment only Perry could provide, Tate stepped into the cage with Rousey as the betting underdog but left as the crowd favorite.
Rousey and Tate put on a “Fight of the Night” performance through a combination of grappling scrambles featuring grit from both combatants. Tate pushed the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champion into foreign waters, as it was Rousey’s first pro or amateur fight to make it out of the first round. Rousey eventually wore down Tate in the third round and secured an armbar-induced submission win.
On the UFC 168 undercard, lightweight Jim Miller broke away from Creedence Clearwater Revival but stayed with a mean classic rock guitar riff in the form of The Hollies “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress).” Dustin Poirier and Robert Peralta both went with clever wordplay in their walkout selections. Poirier picked Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” while Peralta went deep into the hip hop archives for Lil Scrappy’s “No Problem.”
UFC 168 Walkout Songs:Chris Weidman: Tom Petty “I Won’t Back Down” Full Moon Fever (1989)
Anderson Silva: DMX “No Sunshine” Exit Wounds Soundtrack (2001)
Ronda Rousey: Joan Jett “Bad Reputation” Bad Reputation (1980)
Miesha Tate: Katy Perry “Roar” Prism (2013)
Travis Browne: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Maui Hawaiian Sup’pa Man” Facing Future (1993)
Josh Barnett: Bolt Thrower “The IVth Crusade” The IVth Crusade (1992)
Jim Miller: The Hollies “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)” Distant Light (1972)
Fabricio Camoes: DMX “Where the Hood At?” Grand Champ (2003)
Dustin Poirier: Kanye West “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” Late Registration (2005)
Diego Brandao: DJ Darude “Sandstorm” Before the Storm (1999)
Uriah Hall: K’naan “Wavin Flag” Troubadour (2009)
Chris Leben: Digital Underground “The Humpty Dance” Sex Packets (1990)
Gleison Tibau: Black Sabbath “Iron Man” Paranoid (1970)
Dennis Siver: Papa Roach “Last Resort” Infest (2000)
Bobby Voelker: Deftones feat. Max Cavalera “Headup” Around the Fur (1997)
Robert Peralta: Lil Scrappy “No Problem” Trillville & Lil Scrappy (2004)
Estevan Payan: Daddy Yankee “Rompe” Barrio Fino en Directo (2005)
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of ULTMMA.com. You can contact him on Twitter at @ULTMMA.