Most people see luck as a chance occurrence of good fortune, but to Chris Weidman, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
It’s astonishing to even think the word luck still holds any relevance regarding Weidman, who is coming off back to back wins over Anderson Silva.
But folks rarely rely on logic when it comes to the greatest fighter in MMA history.
Silva is a living legend and a real life superhero to millions of people around the world. Surely, a young fighter like Weidman with only an 11-0 professional record couldn’t be arrogant enough to actually believe he’s better than Silva.
If Weidman has learned anything in the past year, he has definitely learned that respect can be overrated.
He could go out and defeat Silva three more times and still never get the respect he rightfully deserves. There will always be doubters and naysayers at every turn steadily chipping away at the foundation of Weidman’s success.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Weidman told MMA journalist Ariel Helwani that he has come to terms with the fact that he will never win over the respect of certain individuals:
I’ve realized that respect is overrated. I’m never going to win over the respect of certain people. I can tell you one thing, after the first fight, I even thought I needed to prove it to myself that I’m better than him. He started showboating, and even for me to knock him out, I surprised myself. But after both fights now being in the past, I can for sure tell you that I believe I’m the better fighter.
Outside of pro fighters and MMA pundits, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone giving Weidman much of a chance against Silva in the first fight.
Hotdogs were sizzling on grills, cold beverages were being popped and millions of MMA fans were gathering within the comfort of their living rooms to watch Silva defend his UFC title against Weidman on that fateful July 6 night. The pre-fight chatter leading up to the bout was that Weidman would be Silva’s toughest fight ever.
Even UFC commentator Joe Rogan’s voice echoed throughout the UFC 162 preview proclaiming Weidman as “the perfect man to defeat Anderson Silva.”
To the casual fan, all of the talk amounted to nothing more than hype.
They had heard the same thing over and over again about fighters they actually knew. Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen—the list goes on and on of all of the world-class fighters who have stood and fallen before Silva.
How could a casual fan put any stock in a man who had only appeared on three UFC main cards up until that point?
Sometimes reality is a dish best served cold.
With all of his inexperience, Weidman stepped into the Octagon with the courage and conviction of a legend and knocked out Silva.
The celebration was short-lived, and it was back to the drawing board after Weidman learned he would be fighting Silva in an immediate rematch in December.
Instead of harping on the victory, Weidman appeared more concerned with the things he did wrong in the fight. One of those mistakes was allowing Silva too many opportunities to stay on the outside and land leg kicks.
After the last fight we had, I was having trouble walking for a week, and I didn’t want that to happen again, Weidman said on The MMA Hour. The one thing he really hit me with the whole fight was leg kicks. …So one thing I really wanted to focus on was leg kicks. I put down maybe one or two guys in sparring [for a couple of seconds] with checking leg kicks. Their job was to try to leg kick me. I was very prepared for leg kicks.
On December 28, the entire world saw just how prepared Weidman was for leg kicks.
The rematch at UFC 168 was penned as the greatest in UFC history. Silva had taken a more serious approach, and the vast majority of fans were expecting Weidman to prove himself as a one-hit wonder and fade back into obscurity.
No one could have predicted the horrifying conclusion that would unfold in the main event that night, except for maybe Australian actor Tim Reuben.
Silva, who had leaned so heavily on leg kicks in the first bout, went to work on Weidman’s legs in the rematch. But the young champion was prepared this time.
The grotesque and twisted expressions on thousands of faces told the story in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night as Weidman checked a kick with his knee and snapped Silva’s leg in half.
It wasn’t necessarily the win that Weidman wanted, but then again, who’s going to argue with a victory over Anderson Silva?
I did get lucky, Weidman told Helwani. Do you know why? Using my meaning of luck, it’s fine, I can say I got lucky and I’m good. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. So I prepared and the opportunity arose, and I got lucky.
Some people make their own luck, which is what Weidman did through months of hard work and preparation.
With a few more wins, perhaps any connotation of Weidman being lucky will fade into obscurity along with previous presumptions of him ever being a one-hit wonder.