The middleweight champion was originally scheduled to take on the surging Vitor Belfort at UFC 173. Elevated testosterone levels from Belfort and surgery on both of Weidman’s knees changed all of that.
Now slated to make his second title defense as the UFC middleweight king, Weidman will take his surgically repaired knees into the Octagon against Lyoto Machida on July 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas for UFC 175.
Considering Weidman only had surgery in April, much of the MMA community was left wondering whether or not Weidman would be able to recover in time for his fight against The Dragon.
Weidman initially called his surgeries a success. He posted this photo on his Instagram profile after the surgery:
Weidman’s long-time trainer Ray Longo wasn’t as quick to claim victory with Weidman’s surgeries, telling Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour:
As a trainer, I expected him, as far as I was told, to fly off the table and everything would be great. But he did have some pain in his knees maybe a week longer than I thought. When you’re in a fight, that week seems like it’s, you know, 18 years.
Middleweight champion or not, Weidman needs to be healthy against a rejuvenated Machida.
Who will be the middleweight champion after UFC 175?
After a flash knockout and checking a leg kick against the former pound-for-pound best, Weidman’s wafer-thin, asterisk-ridden credibility as the champion would only dilapidate in losing to Machida. A dominant victory after two knee surgeries would placate any doubts and propel the 30-year-old Weidman into the same sentences as UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Now, just two weeks before his title fight, Longo explained to Helwani he thinks his fighter is going to be just fine.
He’s going to do it. Again, it did sound, I think, worse than it was and if anybody can do it, Weidman is the guy to do it. I think he’s dealt with adversity his whole life. You know, we have to trust in the doctors at that point and they said it wouldn’t be an issue. It started off a little rough, but I’ll tell you this, he rounded the corner. His knees feel great and he’s ready to go.
It may be difficult to tell if Longo is speaking truths or simply speaking in support of his fighter. Videos like the one below might help prove that Weidman will, in fact, be ready for his fight in July.
Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University's student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.