Chris Weidman continued his impressive run through the best competition MMA has to offer, as he successfully retained his UFC Middleweight Championship Saturday against Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 via unanimous decision.
MMA Junkie tweeted out the result:
UFC 175 results: Chris Weidman def. Lyoto Machida via unanimous decision (49-45, 48-47, 49-46) to retain UFC middleweight title— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) July 6, 2014
Round 1 of the title fight came and went without too much action. While Machida appeared content to sit back in his karate stance and wait on Weidman, The All-American’s leg and body kicks were the only thing to stand out in the round.
As the fight progressed into the second, it appeared that it would be the same song and dance until Weidman scored a takedown with just under a minute left. The Dragon would ultimately make his way back to the feet but not before the champion scored some ground-and-pound.
Although Machida showed more signs of life in the second round, the third round would be much more in the champion's favor. After securing a takedown early in the round, he also tagged Machida multiple times in the stand-up department. With Machida’s face bloodied and battered, Weidman once again went to work on the ground.
But defending the belt against a contender like Machida is never easy. Weidman’s first career fourth round was a difficult one, as The Dragon rallied behind a clean left hand that stunned Weidman and opened up more and more scoring opportunities as the round carried on.
Jeremy Botter of Bleacher Report noted the apparent exhaustion of Weidman:
Looks like weidman’s gas tank just hit E— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) July 6, 2014
The fifth and final frame gave fans fireworks as both combatants looked to earn the finish. However, it was Weidman who highlighted the round with a timely takedown that appeared to have sealed the round for the champion.
Weidman entered the fight as the favorite after defeating UFC legend Anderson Silva twice. Weidman proved that he isn't a flash in the pan by beating another of the biggest names the sport has ever seen.
The All-American improved his perfect record to 12-0 and continued to establish himself as the class of the middleweight division. The 36-year-old Machida put up a fight, but he had a difficult time keeping up with a younger and sprier opponent.
For Weidman, this win is very much about validation. While it isn't quite fair to say that his wins over Silva were considered a fluke by some, there were definitely reservations regarding his status as an elite fighter.
According to Mark La Monica of New York Newsday, Weidman set out to prove that he deserved that designation, and that is precisely what he did.
After becoming champion and then beating Anderson Silva a second time, a hundred percent I had to change my mindset. But it happened naturally, right away.
All these new goals started coming up inside me, boiling up to where instantly I had something else to search for and I wasn't able to feel comfortable with what I've already accomplished. I moved on to "I have to dominate everyone in my weight class."
This next fight, I want to set myself apart from everyone else, let everybody know that I'm going to be the guy here for a while.
With Weidman looking for respect, and Machida hoping to knock off the fastest-rising star in MMA, there was plenty to like about this fight going in. Although the bout seemingly wasn't as hyped as most, those within the sport knew that it would be a good one.
Fighter Cathal Pendred pointed to Weidman vs. Machida as the fight to watch during a stacked week of MMA action:
A lot of big fights next week in the UFC. But the fight I'm most excited for is Machida v Weidman. Such an interesting match up!— Cathal Pendred (@PendredMMA) June 28, 2014
Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter echoed those sentiments as well:
God, Weidman vs. Machida makes me feel all sorts of funny inside. In good and bad ways. I can't wait.— Jeremy Botter (@jeremybotter) June 29, 2014
While there is no question that Machida entered Saturday's contest with confidence based on everything he has accomplished over the course of his career, he was well aware of the caliber of opponent he was about to face, per Marc Raimondi of FoxSports.com.
"There's no doubt he's the champion," Machida said. "He's the best there is in the weight class right now. He won those fights. You can't take away those merits."
Machida learned firsthand just how good Weidman really was as the 30-year-old champion was able to take down yet another big name. With several massive victories in a row now on his resume, it is difficult for anyone to call Weidman a fluke at this point.
Does this win establish Weidman as a legitimate top star?
From Machida's perspective, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. He is still capable of competing with some of the very best fighters in the world, but he is getting up there in age, and there is no doubt that retirement will become a hot topic.
Weidman has no such worries. Intriguing contenders will line up to get a shot at him, with Vitor Belfort potentially leading the way. Belfort was originally supposed to take on Weidman rather than Machida, but the banning of testosterone replacement therapy caused the can to be kicked down the road since Belfort was a beneficiary of that, according to Damon Martin of FoxSports.com.
Beating a guy like Belfort would be another feather in Weidman's cap, but doing so won't be easy if UFC decides to go in that direction. It is a fight that fans would unquestionably love to see, though, especially after Weidman proved his worth at UFC 175.
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