UFC 230 Aftermath: What Now For Chris Weidman?

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After another crushing defeat for ‘The All American’, is it now time to hang the gloves up for good?

July 6th, 2013, MGM Grand Arena. My first ever Las Vegas UFC event attended, headlined by the dominant and heavily favoured Anderson Silva against the unheralded but undefeated, Chris Weidman. I had watched Weidman brutally knockout Mark Munoz the year previously and believed his strong wrestling base would give Silva a test. But even I was dumbstruck when he shocked the world, making Silva pay for his clowning around in the 2nd round.

Weidman shocks the world!

After ending Silva’s 17-fight undefeated streak Weidman struggled to garner the attention that a win of this magnitude deserved. Yes, Silva was caught after taunting Weidman but it never felt truly decisive.

The return bout 6 months later had another inconclusive ending, with Weidman checking some brutal kicks from Silva, snapping the Brazilian’s fibula and tibia in the process.

It was a horrible ending for an eagerly anticipated rematch and one which hampered Weidman to superstardom. Despite defending the title against Lyoto Machida in an entertaining bout, and also enduring an early flurry of punches from Vitor Belfort, before stopping him with ground and pound, it was the Luke Rockhold bout that was finally going to get him the respect he deserved and hopefully grow his fan base.

The bout in December 2015 at UFC 194 was an exciting back and forth affair until an ill-attempted wheel kick from Weidman saw Rockhold take advantage, taking full mount on top of Weidman and brutally landing elbows across the next two rounds. Truth be told, this was the start of a devastating run for Weidman.

A run of bad form (and luck)

Weidman was given the chance for redemption and offered the rematch at UFC 199, unfortunately, he had to pull out of the fight due to a herniated disc. Michael Bisping stepped in and the rest, as they say, is history.

Crushing defeats to Gegard Mousasi and Yoel Romero followed, both of them KO’s. Another shot at the title seemed distant. Last year Weidman was given the chance to vanquish his three-fight losing streak against the up and coming, very dangerous Kelvin Gastelum. This was truly a testament to Weidman’s resolve and heart. He was dropped violently towards the end of the round one, before rallying back in the third round, submitting Gastelum with an arm triangle.

“Feels good to get back where I deserve”

After the bout, Weidman conceded that the past few years and his losing streak had a massive impact on him and that he felt it was good to be back in the win column. His road back to the top seemed finally in reach and it would continue with getting the rematch he badly craved against Luke Rockhold at UFC 230. Unfortunately, Rockhold, this time was the one to have to pull out with a number of injuries and in his place stepped in Jacare Souza.

Another night of heartache at MSG

In last night’s bout with Souza, Weidman looked to have done enough in the opening two rounds (eerily similar to his first fight at MSG with Yoel Romero). His boxing was crisp and his jab throughout the fight visibly had Souza effected.

However as the bout wore on Souza constant pressure seemed to be draining Weidman, eventually clipping him in the forehead. The American fell backward and was completely out of it.

Souza knew he was done, the crowd knew it but it seemed referee Dan Miragliotta was the only one unaware it was over as Souza reluctantly delivered three final shots to his grounded opponent.

Imagine how much worse it would have been had it not been such a savvy veteran like Souza in against Weidman

Is it time to walk away with? 

As a massive fan of the sport since the early 00’s seeing one of your favourite fighters get beat is disappointing. Watching them get knocked-out cold or get hurt by strikes more frequently than they did previously goes beyond disappointment, it starts to make you worry for their long-term health.

Now, let me caveat this by saying I am no professional fighter. I have never been in the cage and I am only your typical ‘arm-chair expert’. I have no right to tell anyone that they should give up something that is their livelihood

However, there must come a time when a fighter must realise that the shots they take aren’t being responded to the way they once did.

Chuck Liddell’s final fights made me sad and the fact he is returning makes me feel even more. BJ Penn’s continual downward spiral looks like it hasn’t ended either.

Of course, here is the conflict of the fight game I am only too well aware of – I enjoy watching fights week after week, demanding more competitive bouts for my entertainment, despite knowing full well of the long-term effects of CTE.

I imagine every single one of us at some point has thought about this…When a fighter starts to go on the slide this way it starts to make me feel all ‘icky’ inside. Such a bizarre, crazy and weird sport we devour.

Weidman has reached the top of the mountain and made history, regardless of how those fights with Silva will be remembered. The history books will show he beat one of the GOATS, I believe he has nothing left to prove.

The fight game is a young man’s game

I know he is a proud man and feels he could still potentially hang with the best, but let’s be real here…if an aging and on the slide Souza can KO him, what on earth would Paulo Costa or last night’s big winner Israel Adesanya to in the cage with Weidman?

I have no desire to see him be picked apart by those types of strikers and I would implore him to retire whilst he still in full possession of his faculties/senses.

Weidman is a warrior, a true competitor and a student of the game but there comes a time in every fighter’s life when they must ask is the juice worth the squeeze?

No disrespect to anyone ranked from 11 through 25 but Weidman has no need to fight them, nor should he be offered them. I just don’t think he can hang with the upper tier any longer and I don’t think his body will allow him to either.

This truly is a young man’s game and at 34 years old Chris has the opportunity to go full time into acting or perhaps as an analyst in MMA if he still wants to be around the sport.

If ever there was a time for Dana to have ‘one of those conversations’ with a fighter…it’s now.

Should Chris Weidman contemplate retirement?

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