It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Chris “All American” Weidman successfully defended his UFC middleweight title at UFC 168 against Anderson Silva winning the bout via TKO due to a gruesome leg injury sustained by Silva in the second round.
Weidman controlled much of the first round utilizing his aggressive striking to rush Silva and take away his ability to throw leg kicks. While in the clinch, Weidman dropped Silva with a punch and spent the duration of the round on top, pounding Silva out with some heavy ground and pound.
The second round was much shorter. Both fighters met in the center of the Octagon and pawed at each other to establish distance. Weidman threw the first significant strike with a solid kick to Silva’s midsection. Silva immediately retaliated with a leg kick, which Weidman checked with his knee. In a freak accident, Silva broke his leg and dropped to the mat screaming in agony. The fight was called off at 1:16 of the second round.
A third fight between Silva and Weidman seems unlikely given Silva’s age (39 years old) and the severity of his injury. In the lead up to UFC 168 Silva expressed a desire to retire and this injury may strengthen that decision. Unfortunately for Weidman, he did not get the opportunity to defeat Silva decisively and was ultimately denied his shot at validation as champion.
Dana White recently announced that Vitor Belfort would receive the next shot at the UFC Middleweight title, so it looks like Weidman and Belfort will square up in 2014. Vitor Belfort has always been known as a dangerous striker, but his striking has looked significantly better in 2013 as Belfort finished all 3 of his opponents via knockout. His knockout streak began on January 16th at UFC on FX 7 with a head kick knockout of Michael Bisping in Brazil and continued with a highlight reel spinning heel kick knockout of Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8. Belfort’s most impressive knockout in 2013 was his knockout of Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 28. Belfort used his speed to overwhelm Henderson and dropped him with a perfectly timed head kick, followed up with some heavy shots earning him the knockout victory at 1:17 in the first round.
Stylistically Weidman and Belfort match up fairly well. Aside from Silva, we haven’t really seen Weidman against a striker of Belfort’s caliber. Belfort hits incredibly hard and is lightning fast with his punches. If the punches weren’t enough, Belfort’s kicks in 2013 were incredible and he could potentially catch Weidman with a kick. Not only is Belfort the most aggressive striker in the Middleweight division, he brings a very slick ground game into this fight as well. Weidman is definitely going to want to make this a grappling match with Belfort and avoid Belfort’s striking as much as possible. Belfort has struggled with stifling wrestlers in numerous fights most notably against Tito Ortiz and Jon Jones so Weidman is going to want to drag this fight to the mat and look for a submission.