Although he defeated Anderson Silva twice, questions still swirled around middleweight champion Chris Weidman heading into Saturday night’s title defense against Silva teammate Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 in Las Vegas.
The main query was whether or not Weidman was really as good as two wins over Anderson Silva should suggest. And he answered that question.
Not surprisingly, Weidman fell into his usual approach of applying pressure, taking the fight to Machida early. What was somewhat surprising is a new wrinkle from Weidman, as he threw numerous kicks from the opening bell, not giving Machida any room to counter.
Machida started, slowly, to turn the tide late in round two, but then Weidman secured a takedown, dishing out a strong helping of ground and pound that took much of the wind out of the Brazilian’s sail.
As hard as Machida tried to get things going, it only served to press Weidman into a higher gear. The champion took the fight to his challenger scoring several takedowns, increasing the ferocity of his ground and pound, and landing numerous combinations on the feet.
Machida wasn’t done, however, stuffing Weidman’s takedown attempts in the first of the championship rounds, and then opening up with his hands. He staggered the champion with hard left hooks and backed him up with follow-up combinations, completely changing the flow of the fight.
The final round was an entirely different beast. It was a brand new fight in and of itself.
Machida tried to keep the momentum gained in round four going into the final frame, and did for a time, but as soon as he seemed to take control, Weidman fought through a furious exchange and took him to the mat. After some ground and pound, Weidman transitioned to mount and then back control. Machida somehow regained his feet and unleashed one final flurry, but couldn’t put Weidman away, and that was what he needed to win the fight.
It was a blinding display by both men, and each gave the other his due following the fight.
Weidman, however, remained undefeated, moving his record to 12-0 with a unanimous nod from the judges, putting a stamp of approval on his claim to the UFC middleweight championship.