Almost two weeks after the fact, and people are still talking: Chris Weidman did the impossible. He beat Anderson Silva.
He’s going to have to do it again, as he’ll headline against the best of all time once again at UFC 168 in December.
But for the first guy not named Silva to be middleweight champion since 2006, the MMA world might want to calibrate its expectations for his reign.
Is he going to break Silva’s record for title defenses?
Is he going to even beat Silva again in December?
Is he going to end up somewhere in between?
If the oddsmakers are to be believed, it’s not likely that the last two are going to happen. He’s probably going to lose to Silva in December, which makes that last option moot. However, in fairness to the guy who just became the top 185-pound dog in the yard, one could probably expect more.
It was hard for the world to consider it possible, even as Georges St-Pierre and Gray Maynard assured them it was on every TV spot out there, but Weidman toppling Silva happened—and it could happen again.
That’s where the realistic expectations begin.
Weidman is not a good matchup for Silva. He can wrestle, he’s a decorated grappler and his striking is good and getting better. You've heard all that before because that’s how the first fight was sold, but now you’ve seen it, too.
Silva has seen it, too.
But at 38 years old and coming off the first KO loss of his career, it’s conceivable that this fight was the changing of the guard at middleweight. It’s conceivable that this could be the end of Silva as a champion. It happens to all the greats, whether fans and fanboys want to admit it, and it will eventually happen to Silva. Everybody gets old.
If Silva has suddenly become old, or even worse, human, there’s a realistic possibility that Weidman could put a permanent stamp on things with another win at UFC 168.
Should he do that—and it’s much easier to write down the words than it is for him to go out and defend his new title—the sky is basically the limit.
The New Yorker is young and good at everything, a great representative of what the modern mixed martial artist is supposed to be. Truthfully, aside from Silva, it’s hard to envision anyone who’s got the tools to best him inside the cage at this point.
It's hard to envision because he’s good, and he’s only getting better.
That’s not to say he’ll never lose or that he’ll challenge Silva’s record for title defenses. Champions exist to be beaten, and in MMA, it often happens when you least expect it.
But it’s surely reasonable to expect him to hold onto the title for a few years and look good doing it, because that’s been his career trajectory to date.
The biggest hurdle to that? Beating Silva a second time. That may be the least realistic thing out of it all.