Age: 30 Height: 6'2" Reach: 78"
Fight camp: Serra-Longo Fight Team
Record: 11-0 (5 knockouts, 3 submissions)
Last Three Fights
Def. Anderson Silva (TKO), UFC 168
Def. Anderson Silva (KO), UFC 162
Def. Mark Munoz (KO), UFC on Fuel TV 4
Takedown Average: 4.00, Takedown Accuracy: 68%, Takedown Defense: 100%
Few collegiate wrestlers have adapted their skills to the cage quite as well as Chris Weidman has. A two-time Division I All-American at Hofstra University, he has unquestionably elite wrestling, and it's been even better in the context of an MMA fight.
He transitions from striking to wrestling with ease, never telegraphing a shot or giving his opponent a chance to breathe or adjust. Just when a foe feels comfortable on the feet, Weidman shoots, and to the ground the fight goes.
Defensively, he's never given up a takedown, and so far, it doesn't look like anybody in the division has the skills sufficient to plant him on his back. The UFC middleweight champion is an incredible talent all around, but his wrestling is his greatest strength.
Submission Average: 1.9
"Prodigious" is a good word to use when describing Weidman's grappling game.
"Unbelievable" is better.
No, Weidman is not the best grappler in MMA. He's not even the best grappler in the 185-pound division (thanks for nothing, Jacare!). But the speed with which he's picked up the intricacies of Brazilian jiu-jitsu is astounding.
In 2009, with just one year of formal jiu-jitsu training, Weidman won the East Coast trials for the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championship before losing a quarterfinal matchup on points to Andre Galvao, a third-degree black belt who had been training and competing in BJJ tournaments for almost 10 years at that point.
That just doesn't happen. Weidman is a grappling savant, and with three submission victories in his 11-fight MMA career, it's clear that he knows how to apply these skills inside the Octagon. Check out his defense of Anderson Silva's de la Riva hook at UFC 162 for a perfect example of Weidman's instinctive, high-level grappling game. That's some beautiful stuff.
Souza aside, it doesn't look like any middleweight in the world has the combined wrestling and grappling chops to trouble Weidman on the ground.
Significant Strikes Landed per Minute: 3.15, Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute: 1.90
"All-American" twice knocked out the greatest stand-up artist in UFC history, so that has to count for something, right?
While factual, that statement comes with a lot of what-ifs and asterisks. We know Silva clowned around in the first fight, and we know that the second fight ended after Weidman expertly checked a leg kick from "The Spider."
Good for Weidman. He did what he needed to do to win the fights, and he was the better man those nights, fair and square.
But don't think for a second that he's a better all-around striker than Silva. That's just silly.
Yes, Weidman has big-time knockout power, and, yes, he can game-plan to counter one of his opponent's attacks. Still, he's slow and a little sloppy on the feet, and he's mostly a boxer, rarely throwing kicks to diversify his arsenal.
Demian Maia held his own with Weidman on the feet, and the champ faces a monstrous test in karate expert Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 on July 5.
If Weidman can handle or best Machida in the striking department, this score can skyrocket, but for now, let's dampen our praise—and our expectations.
Debuting as a pro in 2009, Weidman is young to the sport of MMA, but he's 30 years old and plagued by injuries, meaning that his time as a top-shelf combatant may be short-lived.
While he is a sensational wrestler and grappler with huge knockout power, he lacks the "it" factor, that inexplicable athleticism and power that made Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre such dominant forces for years.
There's no denying that Weidman's ability to piece together the individual parts of MMA into an effective package is impressive, and his fight camp is top-notch, but with his injury history, age and the increasing strength of the middleweight division, it's hard to imagine him coming close to matching Silva's previous reign.
And that's OK. Silva was a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and we'd be greedy and irrational to expect such dominance from every 185-pound champ who comes along.
On the plus side, Weidman's mental fortitude and fearlessness won him the UFC championship. Whereas other contenders fell into Silva's web and became intimidated and frightened by his antics, Weidman stepped forward and delivered a left hook to the Brazilian's jaw, ending the most impressive championship run in MMA history.