UFC 168 was one of the biggest events in UFC history. Media outlets around the world covered it, social media was ablaze and it was all because of the UFC Middleweight Championship rematch.
Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva by knockout in their first meeting, but how that knockout occurred left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. A rematch had to happen. It would decide if it was a simple mistake by Silva, or legitimize Weidman's run as champion.
We did not get that at UFC 168. Everyone lost.
We got no answers, and now it feels as if the career of the great Anderson Silva is over. Weidman, still the champion, is still not legitimized in many fan's eyes. He will still have the “lucky” tag following him. He did not get the rub from Silva's star.
With the loss of several stars in 2013, the UFC needed Weidman to come out as a winner. It didn't happen.
Weidman supporters will argue that he is legitimized. That he dominated the first fight, and dominated the first round of the second fight. There is certainly some credibility to those statements, but they don't tell the whole story.
In the first fight Silva got loose in the second frame. He was making Weidman look foolish. He got into his head, it was turning to a stand-up battle and Silva was looking like himself. Then he pulled straight back and got clipped.
You cannot take anything away from Weidman landing that punch, but you can point to how Silva was performing and how he got caught. He got caught doing something stupid. Hands down, chin straight up. It wasn't a beautiful technical KO from Weidman.
Then at UFC 168, Weidman had a very good first round. He hurt Silva, took the fight down and pummeled him. However, the second round felt different. It was on its feet, and Weidman didn't look as comfortable.
Then Silva broke his leg.
No one can say how those fights would have played out if those odd occurrences don't happen. Perhaps Weidman would have went back to his wrestling and dominated, or perhaps he would have hurt Silva in tight again. Or maybe Silva's brilliance would shine again.
Weidman dominating the first round means nothing more than him winning the first round. Silva had lost first rounds before. Does Travis Lutter ring a bell? That should not, and will not, make the case for Weidman's legitimacy in defeating Silva.
What we can say after UFC 168 is that nothing is certain. Nothing was answered.
Weidman is a fantastic fighter who is worthy of being a champion, but nothing feels right in the middleweight division after these two fights. Both fights had a definitive end, but they weren't definitive finishes. They were odd finishes that leave fans saying, “What if?”
If Silva does retire, the middleweight division will become clear again after Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort. We won't have to look at the past anymore, and we can let the aging Silva ride off into the sunset as the greatest of all-time. And we can let Weidman begin to legitimize himself as the best middleweight in the world as he steps out of the shadow of Silva and these two fights.
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