Chris Weidman solved the Rubik’s Cube that is Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 on Saturday, but according to the middleweight champ, a horrible training camp and pre-existing injuries prevented him from putting on his best showing.
When speaking with MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, Weidman called his training camp the “worst camp of his life.” He mentioned that his knees were still bothering him from recent meniscus surgery, and he was also dealing with a sprained ligament in his hand, which prevented him from punching the last couple of weeks.
Ironically, most would consider Weidman’s performance on Saturday night the best so far in his young career.
The first three rounds of the fight were all Weidman, who cut off Machida’s angles and kept him backpedaling. Machida struggled early to find separation and be his usual creative self in the open. Through constant pressure, Weidman was able to beat the former light heavyweight champ to the punch and set up multiple takedowns.
It wasn’t until the championship rounds that things slowly began to tip in Machida’s favor. After three dominant rounds, Weidman came out a bit sluggish in the fourth, and Machida was able to make up some points on the scorecards.
Both men were completely exhausted by the time the final round rolled around, but Weidman’s ability to dig deep and gut out the last five minutes earned him the decision nod and his second consecutive UFC title defense.
While much isn’t known about the severity of Weidman’s hand injury, Helwani vouches for the champ’s ongoing knee problems after seeing him on a plane ride back in May.
This situation will be monitored closely in the coming weeks. There is always the potential for Weidman to be sidelined for an extended period of time if he goes under the knife again.
If not, he’ll likely take some time off and begin preparing for a possible showdown with Vitor Belfort.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.