For Chris Weidman, the best offense was a good defense.
The UFC middleweight champion again defeated Anderson Silva in controversial fashion on Saturday night. This time, there likely won’t be a rematch. Just more than a minute into round two, Chris Weidman ended the fight–and probably Anderson Silva’s storied career–merely by checking a Silva leg kick. A very stoppable force collided with an immovable object. Weidman’s leg stood its ground, as much as a leg a few inches above the ground can, and the spider’s leg became a turkey’s wishbone.
The unusual ending to the fight was preceded by an unusual beginning. Silva, as though sensing something ominous, delayed his octagon entrance by squatting in down in prayer or meditation for about a minute. “This is very unusual,” the pay-per-view commentator redundantly noted. Weidman, by contrast, appeared confident draped in an American flag as he entered the octagon to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
The fighters touched gloves and danced around one another uneventfully. After a half-minute feeling-out process, Weidman scored a takedown. Silva quickly regained his feet. Weidman had more luck in his second takedown, brutalizing the Brazilian with a torrent of punches that left Silva precariously close to being on the wrong end of a referee’s intervention. Silva, though, weathered the storm.
Weidman retained top position for most of the round, employing a steady ground-and-pound of elbows and fists. Rather than attempt to regain his feet, Silva locked his legs around his opponent’s waist to reduce his offensive capabilities. After surviving Weidman’s initial explosion, the former champion largely negated any damage coming his way. Nevertheless, Silva, as had been the case in two fights against Chael Sonnen, looked terribly uncomfortable on his back despite effective striking from the bottom late in the round.
Round one entered the scorecards as a clear 10-9 win for Chris Weidman.
Round two played out as perfectly pedestrian over the first minute, with the combatants trading leg kicks. Soon thereafter, Silva launched a low kick, Weidman checked it, and Silva’s leg snapped in reverse Joe Theismann-style. Referee Herb Dean quickly intervened and medical personnel removed Anderson Silva, in agony near the fence, from the octagon.
Almost immediately, the pay-per-view broadcast twice replayed the gruesome injury, which appeared as a clean break a few inches above the ankle. The bottom portion of Silva’s leg limply flapped in an unnatural fashion after the collision, as though the Brazilian possessed a third knee. Silva seemed to be unaware of the damage until taking a step backward.
In the postfight interview, a subdued Weidman praised Silva’s greatness. Remarkably, he confessed to training for the match’s climactic moment. Weidman emphasized that his training camp actually made checking leg kicks a major priority. Weidman anticipated the kicks. He couldn’t have anticipated the bizarre ending to them.
The gruesome break may become the most talked about least watched event in mixed-martial arts history. For sadists and ghouls, the snapped tibia may make the highlight reel. Everyone else witnessing the horror-book ending of Anderson Silva’s career–with his leg pointing in four different directions–will surely pray for amnesia.
The undercard featured a dominant performance by underdog Travis Browne, whose vicious elbows made quick work of heavyweight Josh Barnett. Uriah Hall battered and bloodied Chris Leben, providing him with a dyed-red face to match his dyed-red hair. Hall forced the veteran middleweight to quit on the stool following the first round beatdown. Like onetime foe Silva, Leben likely leaves the octagon for the last time at UFC 168. In a matchup of Brazilian jujitsu black belts, Dan Miller armbarred Fabricio Camoes to claim a first-round victory. And in a spectacular, sure-fire fight-of-the-night, Rhonda Rousey employed magnificent judo throws and a superior submission game to coax a third-round tap from a courageous Miesha Tate.
Weidman’s first title defense sets him up for a fight with a resurgent Vitor Belfort.