Chris Weidman carries confidence—and American flags—in spades, into the cage.
He had confidence before knocking out Anderson Silva in their first fight at UFC 162. He flashed even more of it for the rematch at UFC 168, where he went on to leg check the ever-living you-know-what out of Silva's now titanium-fortified limb.
So it is should come as no surprise that "The All-American" and his confidence are riding high.
He recently spoke with Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, saying that if the 38-year-old Silva does decide to return to the Octagon after recovering from his broken leg, he cannot envision fighting him a third time.
It’s a tough injury to come back from. I honestly would feel bad to fight him again. I know he’s going to be a little hesitant to kick me. He has to worry about getting knocked out. I’ve dropped him twice, knocked him out once. And I don’t know if it’d even be a fair fight to take. There has to be a lot going through his head. Got a leg broken, got knocked out, got dropped. I don’t know where he is mentally, but fighting is 90% mental.
First of all, someone—anyone—talking about the once unbeatable Silva (everyone is beatable) in that way is disarming for many.
"I honestly would feel bad to fight him again." He said that? About Silva? Well then.
For those that watched Silva go 16-0 over a seven-year span...it just doesn't compute. Probably never will.
But that is the fight game. Out with the old and in with the new. Nothing lasts forever, and so on. Silva, in some ways, is already yesterday's news.
We will continue to monitor any injury-related updates, but from the perspective of Silva being at the top of the food chain, many have already moved on.
Weidman certainly has. He is our new Cinderella man. He looks unstoppable. But so did Silva. So did Jon Jones. So did Georges St-Pierre. How long he can keep that glass slipper wrapped around his fist, well, that'll be fun to see.
Up next: the terrifying TRT version of Vitor Belfort.
And if Silva attempts some sort of career comeback, it will be a feel-good story. But despite seeming a bit cocky, does Weidman's statement ring true?
Is he just truth-telling and keeping it real as the kids like to say, or is his confidence at a level where it seems in bad taste and a bit nauseating to some?
Is he kicking the former champ while he is down...or was it the most real thing that could have been said?
For Weidman detractors they point to: (1) the audio that some think captures Weidman's corner saying, "Good, f*** him"; (2) that, in their first fight, he made sure to land as many shots as he could before the ref stopped the action; and (3) Weidman seeming too giddy to them in his post-fight running-around-the-cage celebration.
Let the dude celebrate, no?
They also focus on how matter-of-fact he was at the post-fight presser about consciously leg-checking Silva's kick and knowing what could likely happen. He did of course say he would never want to see Silva get hurt like that, and there is no reason to doubt that, right?
(Just for the record, no one would say Silva is some squeaky clean in-cage combatant with only angelic tactics.)
The mousetrap for anyone casting Weidman as anything close to cocky is, of course, the acerbic shadow of Silva—considered by many to be the cockiest MMA fighter to step inside a cage, be it to throw his foes off their game or otherwise.
Many sports fans, though—maybe MMA fans in particular—do not necessarily like their champs being buried early, especially while they are still alive and kicking. So they may not care for this bravado from Weidman.
Silva was, and still very much is, beloved. He has not even officially retired yet. Maybe, just maybe, he wants to make one last run—with a little titanium in his stride this time around.
Is it that crazy to think he could come back and beat Weidman in a third tussle? The American clearly won the first round of their rematch, but Silva looked to be winding up in the second frame before...you know.
So. Weidman. A bit of a jerk? Or simply confident, ready to move on from the Silva saga, get on down the road and pave his own legacy. He certainly looks like he is on his way to doing just that if he can get by Belfort, Lyoto Machida and a few other challengers who emerge.
Whatever you think of Weidman and what he brings, it works; the no-nonsense bravado does the trick because this is the hurt game and champs need all the gall they can muster. He fought fire with fire and burned the old dragon down.
One day in the future, though, he too may be looking down the double barrel of the latest young gun who doesn't give a you-know-what that a now past-his-prime Weidman once beat the late great Silva.
And so it goes...just ask that cocky Silva guy.
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