Chris Weidman has gone from undercard nobody to headlining the UFC’s biggest annual event in his four-plus years in the promotion. As the UFC middleweight champion prepares to solve the vexing problem that is Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, Weidman checked in with Breitbart Sports on his training for the big fight, whether he really called the gory result of his famous check of Anderson Silva’s kick, and the similarities between his last challenger and next one.
Weidman concedes that his UFC 175 opponent presents “a frustrating style.” Affirming the champion’s confidence in his evolution from a pure wrestler into a complete mixed-martial artist, Weidman told Breitbart Sports that Plan A involves relieving the Brazilian karate black-belt of consciousness through striking and Plan B consists of coaxing a tap on the mat.
“I will look to beat him standing up,” Weidman tells Breitbart Sports. “If can’t take him out on the feet, I will take him to the ground and submit him there.”
The Long Island native calls his preparation for Machida “pretty similar” to his training camps for his two fights with Anderson Silva. Once again, he’s brought in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, a 9-1 UFC fighter highly skilled in karate, to mimic his opponent. Weidman heaps praise upon his sparring partner. “He moves like [Machida],” Weidman says of Thompson. “His style is very similar. I can spar against him and get a feel for what I might get on fight night.”
And training with Thompson yielded amazing results for Weidman in his two stoppage victories over Anderson Silva, the greatest mixed-martial artist ever in the estimation of many of the young sport’s aficionados.
“My first fight with Anderson Silva when I knocked him out, the one thing he had success with is leg kicks,” Weidman explains. “So I prepared for them in the second fight. This involved a lot of leg checking. I didn’t expect to break his leg doing it. I expected him to stop kicking me. I expected to make it painful for him so that he would stop.”
But Silva didn’t stop. Weidman stopped him by raising his knee just above Silva’s shin on an incoming kick that folded his opponent’s tibia in a visually gruesome injury recalling Joe Theisman’s infamous bad break on Monday Night Football. Weidman’s postfight celebration took on a funereal quality. “It was hard for me to be as happy about the win as I would have been because Anderson broke his leg,” he admits of beating the legend for a second time.
Yet, the outcome was not something entirely out of the realm of expectations. “My coach broke somebody’s leg in training,” Weidman says of trainer Ray Longo. “He put his knee up by his sparring partner’s shin and he broke his leg. It’s not something that happens a lot but it has happened.” In checking kicks in sparring sessions, Weidman has forced opponents to step out–but not wheel into an emergency room. “If someone checks your kicks,” he explains, “it sucks. It hurts.”
On July 3, Weidman hopes to put the hurt on Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida, an MMA legend listing Tito Ortiz, B.J. Penn, Shogun Rua, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Randy Couture, and Rashad Evans as vanquished resume references. And despite Machida’s prowess avoiding shots on the feet and BJJ black-belt for ground defense, the heavy-handed wrestler looks to knock him out or tap him out. The UFC’s former light-heavyweight champion has endured each stoppage once in his 25-fight career, so the future result the current middleweight champion envisions isn’t quite buttressed by past performance–at least Machida’s.
But this is the guy who knocked out Anderson Silva, a fighter who had never been stopped on strikes, and broke the Brazilian legend’s leg on a fluke that turned out to have been the plan. The undefeated fighter in his eleven professional bouts has forced fans to expect the unexpected.