To be fair to Chris Weidman, it can’t be easy to prepare for a professional MMA fight on less than two weeks' notice. The former collegiate wrestler—who ran his record to 8-0-0 with a split-decision win over jujitsu black belt Demian Maia—could hardly have been expected to be at his best in tonight’s UFC on Fox 2.
Even so, UFC could scarcely have gotten a worse match for their free-TV showcase if the two fighters had been trying to sabotage their own promotion. Considering that only the most hardcore fans will have seen the prelims on the obscure Fuel network, the great majority of the TV audience tuned in to find their night started with a slow, uneventful match that was badly fought by both men.
Weidman showed occasional flashes of takedown ability, but Maia was never in any serious danger of being caught in a submission. Those takedowns were likely the difference on the judges’ cards, because very little damage was done by either fighter in this bout.
The portion of the match that wasn’t conducted on the mat looked like Maia and Weidman were fighting underwater: slow, sweeping strikes with nothing behind them and little hope of making solid contact. The final bell appeared to put both the contenders and the fans out of their misery.
Weidman maintains his undefeated record, but a win against Maia (now 15-4) was never going to do that much for his future prospects. A tedious, sloppy win will almost certainly do even less for his reputation (or his chances of landing a televised fight anytime soon).
Regardless of how the rest of tonight’s matches play out, this contest was a black eye for UFC’s efforts to attract a mainstream audience. Sadly, that’s more damage than either Weidman or Maia did to each other in the bout.