UFC 168 Results: Chris Weidman and the Top 10 Middleweights in the UFC
Chris Weidman retained his middleweight title at UFC 168—albeit not in a way he would've wanted.
Anderson Silva looked to be taking the fight seriously, as he didn't engage in his usual taunting. It came to an end as Silva threw a leg kick that was checked by Weidman. Silva's leg snapped and the former champ collapsed to the ground in a heap of pain.
The win for Weidman pushed his record to 11-0 and set up a title fight with Vitor Belfort in the process. We know Belfort is next for the champ, but how does the rest of the division stack up?
Costa Philippou became a dark-horse contender in 2012, going 3-0 with an impressive TKO finish over Tim Boetsch.
Philippou ran into trouble with his last outing, however, losing to Francis Carmont by unanimous decision at UFC 165.
He may have made a questionable call leaving Team Serra-Longo, but with Chris Weidman still the champion, it allows Philippou to avoid potentially having to fight a teammate.
He will have the chance to get back to his winning ways at UFC Fight Night 35 when he takes on former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
Tim Kennedy entered the UFC on a sour note, angering both fans and UFC brass by complaining about fighter pay.
An underwhelming (although dominant) win over Roger Gracie did little to get either fans or Dana White on his side.
Kennedy changed that with his performance at UFC Fight for the Troops 3, however. He blasted Rafael Natal from his senses in the first round and gave the troops in attendance something to cheer about to end the show.
Kennedy's personality may not be for everyone, but it's hard to deny that he makes fans tune in to watch him. Whether that's to see him win or lose is irrelevant at that point.
The former Strikeforce title challenger had a torn quad going into the Natal, fight so he may be on the shelf for some time.
Francis Carmont is the top-10 fighter that nobody wants to see. The TriStar gym product is undefeated in the UFC and hasn't lost since 2008.
Carmont took out the very tough Costa Philippou in his last outing, and nobody can deny he's a solid grappler. Yet fans often get a sour taste in their mouth from watching Carmont's fights, as they aren't the most exciting in the world. Nonetheless, winning is all that matters, and so long as he continues to do that, he will rise up the rankings en route to a title match.
Carmont will look to keep the good times rolling as he faces Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in his next contest.
Carmont may struggle to win over fans, but that will likely never be an issue for Mark "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" Munoz.
Munoz didn't look like himself when he faced Chris Weidman in 2012, and he took it upon himself to transform himself afterward.
He returned and looked to be in great shape for his contest with Tim Boetsch at UFC 162, picking up a unanimous-decision win in the process. But he ran into a roadblock when he faced Lyoto Machida after the former light heavyweight champ dropped down to the middleweight division.
Munoz doesn't have a fight lined up at the moment, but should be ready to compete in 2014.
Former Strikeforce middleweight champ Luke Rockhold stumbled in his UFC debut, but there's no shame in losing to a guy like Vitor Belfort.
Prior to the Belfort loss, Rockhold hadn't lost since his second professional bout back in 2007. During his time in Strikeforce, he defeated Jesse Taylor, Jacare Souza, Keith Jardine and Tim Kennedy.
The American Kickboxing Academy product will look to bounce back from the Belfort loss when he takes on top-10 ranked Costa Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35.
Michael Bisping finds himself in a familiar position. He's highly ranked but still on the outside looking in for a title shot at 185 pounds.
Bisping has cemented himself as a high-level gatekeeper with a 2-2 record in his last four fights. Just as his career has gone, each time he reaches the chance to fight for a title, he comes up on the losing end.
Bisping received another chance to fight for the title when he faced Belfort to begin 2013, but he was knocked out for the second time in his career. He did rebound nicely at the expense of Alan Belcher, though, outclassing him until the fight was prematurely ended by an injury to Belcher's eye.
Bisping then suffered his own eye injury and was forced out of his scheduled contest with Machida. He's been engaged in a war of words with Tim Kennedy while sitting on the sidelines, but it remains to be seen if the two will meet in the Octagon.
Lyoto Machida is probably the most intriguing fighter on this list. He is a former light heavyweight champion who made the drop to middleweight after losing a close decision to Phil Davis at UFC 163.
Machida made a successful middleweight debut when he dropped Mark Munoz with a beautiful head kick.
After stumbling a bit to reach the top of the light heavyweight division, he could very well be one win away from a middleweight title shot. He'll need to get past Gegard Mousasi, but if he can, don't be surprised to see Machida bumped up to a title shot, even if Souza wins his next bout.
I believe we can all agree that Anderson Silva is still among the best middleweights in the world. A freak injury forced his bout with Chris Weidman at UFC 168 to end prematurely, and his return to action is questionable.
He had surgery and is out an estimated three to six months, according to Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com.
Regardless of how you view Silva's performances against Weidman, the fact remains that he's lost two fights in a row. He's still ranked in the top five on my list, but I don't see how he can be ranked ahead of guys who are on a roll like Souza and Belfort.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza may be the most improved fighter in the top 10 rankings. After winning the Strikeforce middleweight title, he has become a complete MMA fighter.
Initially, Souza was just a grappler, but his victories over Derek Brunson and Yushin Okami have forced opponents to also consider his striking when game planning for him.
Jacare will face an opponent that feeds directly into his strength when he meets Carmont at UFC Fight Night 36. If he can defeat another top-10 opponent, it will be tough for the UFC to not award him with a title shot.
Vitor Belfort did everything he could to earn Fighter of the Year honors, with three impressive, highlight-reel knockout victories.
The first came against Bisping, who had previously only been knocked out once in his career. Next up was a flashy spinning back kick that clipped Rockhold. Belfort followed it up with a number of punches and quickly put away the former Strikeforce middleweight champion.
Although the Rockhold knockout will be shown in highlight reels for years to come, I believe the most impressive KO was Belfort's win against Dan Henderson. The veteran had never been knocked out beforem and Belfort put Henderson away in the first round.
Belfort will undoubtedly face Weidman in 2014 for the UFC middleweight belt.
Chris Weidman cemented his place at the top of the middleweight rankings by retaining his title at UFC 168. Freak injury aside, he was dominating the fight up until that point.
Weidman likely won't receive the credit he deserves for taking out one of the greatest fighters in MMA history, but the fact remains he has two wins over The Spider.
Next up for the champion is a showdown with Belfort. The only question is where and when the fight will happen, as Belfort has some TRT complications.
Regardless of where the fight takes place, it will be hard for anyone to take the belt away from Weidman, as he appears to be one of the most complete fighters in the game right now. He's shown to be a capable striker, and we all know about the high level of grappling he possesses.
To the rest of the middleweight division, good luck.