Chris Weidman: The Invisible Champion

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2014

Chris Weidman, of Baldwin, N.Y., walks after defeating Anderson Silva, of Brazil, during the UFC 168 mixed martial arts middleweight championship bout on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Las Vegas. Weidman won during the second round by a technical knockout after Silva was injured. (AP Photo/David Becker)
David Becker/Associated Press

Invisibility will always remain a superpower most of us dream of acquiring.

As a kid, I remember pulling a blanket over my head and walking around my house pretending to be unseen.

I would creep up on my mom, peer around the corner at my dad or run around like a banshee with wings.

But as magnificent and pure as that was, being invisible in today's world doesn't necessarily equate to immediate awesomeness.

From coffee lines to UFC supremacy, we are often better seen for what we are—no false representations, transparent masteries or undiscovered potential.

Jul 5, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chris Weidman (red gloves ) lands a kick to Lyoto Machida (blue gloves) during a middleweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Because whether we're ordering an iced latte with sugar and milk (my girlfriend's favorite) or defending the UFC middleweight throne in succession, it's almost always beneficial to be noticed.

I guess that's why champion Chris Weidman remains such an anomaly in the current state of mixed martial arts.

In hindsight, Weidman is everything we could ask for.

He's humble, a true sponge in the gym, capable of handling himself on the mic and an undefeated titleholder who has shown nothing but excellence inside of the Octagon.

Not to mention the 30-year-old is young enough to prolong his current dominance and put the middleweight division back on the proverbial map since you-know-who was overtaken.

For Weidman's stock, one which is currently in a state of limbo, everything seems to add up.

But for some reason, he remains the UFC's invisible champion.

Dec 28, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;    Chris Weidman (red gloves) and Anderson Silva (blue gloves) fight during their UFC middleweight championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Weidman won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

He's the very same champion who rewrote the history books by snuffing out Anderson Silva's every move on two separate yet monumental occasions.

He's the same polarizing athlete who recently stood and exchanged with Lyoto Machida, a former light heavyweight champion who is regarded as arguably the best counterstriker of all time.

Yeah, he's that guy. The one who has racked up five UFC finishes, three title-fight victories and has a perfect takedown defense.

For some unforeseen, uneducated reason, Weidman has flown under the radar like a sixth-grader at varsity tryouts.

People might point out the fact that his titanic finishes of Silva were sparked by an unknown source of fortunate timing and calculation, but that sort of argument is a farce.

Others might point out the fact that Weidman hasn't defended his title as many times as other standout kingpins like Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, Jose Aldo and even Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson.

Jul 5, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Lyoto Machida (blue gloves) lands a blow to Chris Weidman (red gloves) during a middleweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The rest of the pack will remark over the New Yorker's lack of natural ability, citing striking imperfections, a lack of technicality and the aforementioned knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Is it fair?

Not one bit.

But this business is built around images, not necessarily skill sets or resumes. Just look at Conor McGregor's popularity, which came even though he hasn't fought anybody within the featherweight division's Top 10, let alone defeat them.

In any case, Weidman's image is somehow faded. Like a flickering flashlight in a room of lamps, his presence has not completely manifested itself.

However, that's subject to change, especially if he can decisively knock off Vitor Belfort and defend his title for the third straight time at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 in Las Vegas.

If he can do that then there will be no denying his superstar bravado. There will be no more excuses, no more silly proclamations regarding his in-cage effectiveness and no lackluster assaults on his future potential.

With one more victory, Weidman will finally be recognized for what and who he is: one of the best pound-for-pound middleweights this sport has ever seen.


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