Rarely do you see a fighter beat one of the best middleweights in UFC history yet have unanswered questions. Such is the life of Chris Weidman.
UFC 175 is his first fight in the Octagon since his knockout of Anderson Silva and subsequent technical knockout in the rematch. With both fights, some critics argued that Weidman got lucky. In the first one, Silva really didn't care and was more interested in trolling the crowd. In the rematch, his leg basically exploded.
Both of those critiques might have a kernel of truth, but you don't beat a guy as talented as Silva on accident. Weidman is a deserving middleweight champion, and his bout with Lyoto Machida is a great chance for him to demonstrate why.
When: Saturday, July 5; card begins at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas
Live Stream: UFC.TV
The thing with Weidman is, does anybody really know how good he is? MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas posited that question on Twitter:
There's not a lot of deeper technical breakdowns of Weidman-Machida, largely, I think, b/c we still don't know a lot about Weidman.— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) July 3, 2014
Weidman is inexperienced, but naturally acclimates well. Inexperience means he has more to add. Acclimation means he can add it quickly.— Luke Thomas (@SBNLukeThomas) July 3, 2014
It was thought that a rematch with Silva would prove once and for all whether the 30-year-old was what you'd consider a star-level UFC fighter. That didn't happen, of course, and many are still left pondering his ceiling in the Octagon.
Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter wrote about how he feels that UFC 175 isn't getting the attention he deserves, and he wondered if that was because Weidman remains such an enigma:
Is it because fans don't take Weidman seriously? Are we discounting his wins over Silva because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding both finishes? Hasn't he done enough to calm the critics who say he didn't actually beat Silva?
"I think everybody always going to have critics out there. And it's not really one of my motivating factors to silence those critics because they're always going to be there," Weidman said. "So that’s not really one of the big things in my mind."
If this PPV is suffering from a lack of buzz, then it's a shame. UFC has come under criticism—quite rightly in some respects—for saturating the market with too many events. As a result, the quality of PPV shows has dwindled, causing many fans to turn away from the product.
With Weidman vs. Machida, UFC has a fantastic main event between two supremely gifted fighters. Each guy specializes in certain facets, but neither owns a discernible advantage over the other. This fight is unlikely to feature a memorable knockout, but it has the potential to go the distance and be one of the best battles of the year.
Weidman will look to score early takedowns since he has the advantage on the ground. The champ could end this fight early with strikes or a submission.
Machida, however, is a great defensive fighter. He's not going to stand there with his face wide open, begging Weidman to hit it, and he'll know to watch out for Weidman's takedowns. All of the tactical guile in world only goes so far, though, when your opponent is in much better physical condition.
What Weidman will probably do is use the first round or two to feel Machida out. He'll make the challenger show his best stuff so that later in the fight, he can exploit some of the holes he's found in Machida's game.
On one side, you've got a champion still looking for a signature victory. On the other, an experienced veteran who's hoping for one last moment in the sun.
You can't ask for more from a PPV headliner.