Chris Weidman has now beaten Anderson Silva, the man universally regarded as the greatest of all time, twice. First, to win the UFC middleweight title and then to retain it. So one week on, Weidman has been soaking up the plaudits. Right? Well, not quite.
I know Weidman has a world championship belt and functional limbs but he, too, can be considered rather unfortunate following his duels with Silva.
Bear with me.
Weidman’s victories, life changing career-propelling wins, can both conceivably be called flukes. If not flukes, then certainly the results of freak occurrences.
The manner in which his wins were obtained is inescapable. Naysayers will always be able to point to their fluky nature. In many ways, the magnitude of his accomplishments have been diminished and by no fault of his own.
In the lead up to those defining moments, Weidman was dominating but Silva toyed in the first and then toiled in the second. As a result, everyone was robbed of a conventional result. Most importantly, Chris Weidman was robbed. He was robbed of a definitive win over the greatest of all time, twice.
The nature of the wins caused the aftermath, on each occasion, to be focused on Silva’s shortcomings. The adulation, the praise, it has all been diluted for Weidman.
Which is unfortunate because it can be argued, and argued convincingly, that both wins were as a result of Weidman’s competence as a fighter. Perhaps each occasion was merely a case of his skill and preparation being presented with an opportunity. Nevertheless, there will always be an asterisk beside those wins.
As fight fans, we want decisive answers. We dislike what ifs and maybes. It is why we yearned to see Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and why questionable decisions urk us so much. We need closure.
This is something we didn’t get and likely never will from Weidman fighting Silva.
So not only does Weidman have to follow Silva’s historic reign as middleweight champion, he has to do it with a monkey on his back.
Weidman will have to face a murderers row straight away. Fighters like Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, Jacare Souza and Gegard Mousasi are waiting in the wings.
Luckily, and I use the term lightly, Belfort is up next for Weidman. I say lucky because Weidman needs a guy like Belfort next. He has been on an absolute tear and will provide an excellent litmus test for the champion.
Following the bizarre nature of the Silva fights, this bout will be pivotal. If Weidman wins then he will have proven himself to the doubters and if he loses many will consider the Silva fights to be flukes.
As Jon Jones has shown, it only takes a couple of years and a string of big wins to forge a legacy. Weidman now has this opportunity and he has to take it if he is to break free and leave the shadow of Anderson Silva.