Rivalries: Chris Weidman

By Brian Knapp Aug 6, 2020
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Chris Weidman’s career thus far exists in two spaces: the meteoric rise and the precipitous fall.

After suffering five losses in six appearances, the former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight titleholder will attempt to stop his slide when he meets Omari Akhmedov in the UFC Fight Night 174 co-feature on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Weidman—who won his first 11 bouts as a professional—enters the cage reeling from consecutive knockout losses to Ronaldo Souza and Dominick Reyes, the latter in a failed attempt to move to 205 pounds. The 36-year-old Baldwin, New York, native now returns to the middleweight division in hopes of a late-career revival.

As Weidman makes final preparations for his encounter with Akhmedov, a look at a few of the rivalries upon which his reputation was built:

Weidman twice got the best of former pound-for-pound king Silva. (Photo: Getty Images)

Anderson Silva

The sport’s pound-for-pound king broke the oldest rule in the book, and Weidman was there to levy the punishment. The Serra-Longo Fight Team rep knocked out Silva with a left hook and follow-up punches in the UFC 162 main event on July 6, 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, capturing the middleweight championship by finishing a man who had looked all but invincible since he debuted inside the Octagon some seven years earlier. Undone by his own hubris, Silva succumbed to the blows 79 seconds into Round 2. A four-time collegiate wrestling All-American at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University, Weidman took down the Brazilian in the first round, peppered him with ground-and-pound and attempted a pair of brazen leg locks. Once “The Spider” returned to an upright position, the antics began. His long arms dangling at his side, Silva taunted and mocked Weidman, openly daring the challenger to move into range. He picked up where he left off in the second round, where his clowning finally bit him in the rear end. Weidman leaned in with a clean left hook that sent Silva crashing to the canvas in a dazed state. A heavy right hand came next, followed by a swarm of unanswered blows that left referee Herb Dean no choice but to intervene. Their anticlimactic UFC 168 rematch five months later ended in gruesome fashion, as Silva broke his lower leg when Weidman checked one of his kicks. The injury sidelined the future hall of famer for more than a year.

Machida gave Weidman problems, but the champion persevered. (Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Lyoto Machida

Weidman withstood his first real brush with adversity, as he kept his grasp on the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight crown with a unanimous decision over Machida in the UFC 175 main event on July 5, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. All three judges scored it for the unbeaten champion: 49-45, 48-47 and 49-46. Relentless forward movement, an active kicking game and multiple takedowns provided Weidman with the path to victory. He dictated much of the first 15 minutes, as he took away the Brazilian’s lateral movement with constant pressure and opened a cut near Machida’s right brow with a right hand in the third round. “The Dragon” made his move in the fourth, where he began to reap the rewards from his commitment to body kicks. The champion slowed just enough to afford Machida the opportunities he needed to get back in the fight. In the fifth round, Weidman showed his mettle. The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative battled through fatigue, staggered Machida with a standing elbow and delivered his final takedown. Weidman briefly achieved mount before transitioning to the challenger’s back and applying some healthy ground-and-pound. A finish did not develop, but a hard-fought win was sealed.

Rockhold took Weidman’s crown with fourth-round punches and elbows. (Photo: Getty Images)

Luke Rockhold

Rockhold stopped Weidman with fourth-round punches in the UFC 194 co-headliner on Dec. 12, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, where he became the seventh undisputed middleweight titleholder in Ultimate Fighting Championship history. Battered and bloodied, Weidman succumbed to blows 3:12 into Round 4. After plenty of give and take in the first two rounds, Rockhold turned the fight his way in the third, where he countered an ill-conceived wheel kick from the “All-American” with a takedown, moved to the back, set his hooks and eventually advanced to full mount. From there, Rockhold unleashed some savage ground-and-pound with sharp elbows and concussive punches. Dean showed surprising restraint in allowing Weidman to continue on. When the round ended, he staggered back to his corner a shell of his full-strength self. The American Kickboxing Academy’s Rockhold picked up where he left off in the fourth, where he delivered another takedown, moved to an advantageous position and mopped up what was left with punches. Advertisement


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