Chris Weidman was fully deserving of both victories over Anderson Silva, writes Padraig Martin.
Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva last weekend in the main event of UFC 168. The fight pitted arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the sport’s history against the man who took his title from him in their initial meeting at UFC 162 last November. That makes it two victories from two against Silva for Weidman, yet the fans and media have been slow to give the Matt Serra protégé his dues.
Numerous reports since Saturday’s fights have suggested that there is still some doubt over the legitimacy of Weidman’s victories over the Brazilian. Discussions with fellow MMA fans over the past few days have seen similar questions about the champion being raised.
In their first fight, Weidman took Silva down in the opening round and lost top position only when looking for a submission. Still, he did enough to win the round. In the second, Silva clowned his way around the Octagon with his hands down and paid a heavy price when Weidman capitalized by knocking him out. Sure, pundits and fans alike wondered what would have happened if Silva had kept his hands up and protected himself. The fact that Weidman looked gassed in the second round was pointed to repeatedly also. Such rumblings are understandable, but the same people who made apologies for Silva’s performance in the first fight against Chael Sonnen – blaming an injured rib – were now blatantly ignoring the fact that Weidman was unable to train in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and was still rehabbing a shoulder injury during the early weeks of his camp.
Silva keeps his hands low in most of his fights. He uses clowning and dancing as a means to find his range and to see how his opponent will react. Another reason he keeps his hands down is so he can get under-hooks on his opponents when they try to take him down – a clever improvisation for a striker with no pedigree in wrestling. By carrying his hands low, Silva is taking a calculated risk. If Forest Griffin had caught Silva whilst he taunted him in the cage enroot to that infamous knockout would that have been a fluke? That didn’t happen because Forrest wasn’t fast enough to capitalize, but Weidman took full advantage of Silva’s negligence. Fluke? I don’t think so. When Silva clowns he is taking a calculated risk, more often than not this risk has paid off, but the one time it didn’t shouldn’t be put down to sheer luck.
In the rematch, Weidman hurt Siva early on and spent the majority of the first round in top position. In the second, Silva suffered a horrific leg injury when Weidman checked the challenger’s leg kick. This can be put down to timing and sheer bad luck on Anderson’s part, but the fact remains that he has lost every round spent in the Octagon with Chris Weidman, and to suggest that there are still questions looming after Saturday’s main event is unfair to the champion.
Pundit Arena, Padraig Martin.