Weidman vs. Vitor: The Debate to End All Debates

Disclaimer: I'm 100% biased towards one particular fighter in this case, everyone knows that. However, I am going to do my absolute best when it comes to presenting only facts and curbing opinion in this case.

Last night, I came upon a thread which presented the updated MW rankings and, sure enough, the question of whether or not Vitor Belfort deserves to be ranked #2, and thus ahead of current #1 contender Chris Weidman, was brought up yet again. And the answer was, somewhat surprisingly, a resounding yes. Granted, there was not a ton of Weidman hate, but the fact that so many people thought Vitor should be ranked ahead of him at #2 was shocking nonetheless.

Before I go into why that really shouldn't be the case, let me first state, for a frame of reference, that five of the six SBNation voters on the panel, including MMAMania's own Brian Hemminger and Tom Myers, voted Chris Weidman at #2. Only Dallas Winston of Bloody Elbow thought otherwise, as he had Yushin Okami at #2 and Chris Weidman at #3. None of the six voters ranked Vitor ahead of Weidman. Four of the six, including Hemmi and Ariel Helwani, ranked Vitor #3. Tom and Winston ranked Vitor #4.

Vitor Belfort is a fantastic fighter. I'd be hard pressed to prove the contrary. However, there is one major reason why he should not be ranked #2 in the UFC Middleweight division ahead of Chris Weidman.

Let's look at their ranked wins. Vitor Belfort has three wins in his entire sixteen and a half year career against opponents ranked in the top five. His first came in a highlight reel worthy blitz of Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil over fourteen years ago. His next came in the form of a cut stoppage over Randy Couture just over nine years ago. Finally, his most recent win, a spectacular head kick TKO of Michael Bisping, ranked #3 at the time, took place just over a month ago. The win over Bisping, however, is Vitor's only top five win at middleweight, the weight class in question. In addition, the victory over Couture is a bit misleading, as the cut that led to the stoppage was caused by a seam on Belfort's glove. Vitor fought Randy Couture a total of three times, including an immediate rematch after his victory. He was stopped in both of these other contests.

Chris Weidman, in just four years as a professional mixed martial artist, has recorded two top five wins. The wins came in his two most recent fights, before a long injury layoff. Weidman defeated Demian Maia a little over a year ago at UFC on FOX 2 via decision, after accepting the fight on short notice. Weidman then scored a dominant TKO victory over Mark Munoz a little over six months ago in the headliner of a UFC on FUEL TV card. Weidman is also undefeated in his career.

That being said, and in the interest of not filibustering, here are some comments from the rankings thread I referred to above:

How the fuck is Weidman number 2?

I think he is an exceptional fighter and I am picking him against Andy, but Belfort is easily the number 2 middleweight in the world.

He has a knockout win over a current Top 5 fighter.

RIP Scottidog
RIP Wisetoad

by Plainview on Mar 7, 2013 | 3:29 PM reply rec flag

As stated above, Weidman also has a TKO victory over a top five fighter. Revisionist history is illogical; Munoz being ranked #8 now does not negate the fact that he was ranked #3, same as Bisping, at the time of he and Weidman's fight. Also, and I just noticed this now, pretty disrespectful to have "RIP Wisetoad" in your sig below the name of someone who honestly did pass away.

agree with all but i would switch belfort and weidman

belforts losses came to 2 great champions 1 of which he took on short notice too a much bigger fighter

Apparently saying bisping broke his hand before the fight isn't funny to mmafighting as a result I am officially banned.

by ElStIkO on Mar 7, 2013 | 4:30 PM reply rec flag

Yes, Belfort's two most recent losses have come to two great champions, no argument there whatsoever. However, he also has eight other losses on his resume. Not to mention, he has already gotten his shot at Anderson Silva where he was defeated by knockout. In addition, Chris Weidman has taken numerous fights in the UFC on short notice, and as stated above, is undefeated.

Vitor has a knockout win over a guy in the Top in the last year.

Weidman doesn’t have a win or loss in the last year.

RIP Scottidog
RIP Wisetoad

by Plainview on Mar 7, 2013 | 4:56 PM up reply rec flag

This is untrue. Weidman also has a TKO victory over a top three fighter in the past year. In fact, dating back to Weidman's last fight, both he and Silva have competed the same number of times, while Vitor has competed once more, going 1-1, including a stoppage loss to Jon Jones at Light Heavyweight. And again, fix your sig.

the fedor efect

the next challenger gets elevated to #2.

how the fuck could anyone explain weidman being #2 if he hasn’t fought in a year or so. Not only would i keep okami above him, i’d put jacare above him too as those two have fought recently and won

rip scotti, you'll be missed

by vhw_ on Mar 7, 2013 | 5:59 PM reply rec flag

There is more of a reason than him being the next challenger simply getting elevated. His body of work, when it comes to ranked wins in the middleweight division, is greater than any other UFC middleweight aside from Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Silva is the champion, and Sonnen has lost twice to Silva. Weidman is the only other current UFC middleweight with two top five wins at middleweight on his resume.

Finishing Bisping with a headkick is more impressive than beating Munoz IMO.


by Starr788 on Mar 7, 2013 | 6:29 PM reply rec flag

The way this is worded is misleading. For example, reverse it: Knocking out Munoz with a standing elbow after using his wrestling to dominate the former NCAA national champ is more impressive than beating Bisping IMO.

Finally, before this argument can be used against me, as I say that Vitor's wins outside of the middleweight division should not hold as much weight as certain people think they should, I do not believe that Anthony Pettis deserves a shot at Jose Aldo. In fact, I think he is less deserving of his shot than Vitor would be of another shot at Silva, seeing as he has never fought at the weight where he is getting his shot. However, I am more okay with it than I would be with Vitor getting a shot at Silva for a couple reasons. One, Pettis is a #1 contender, despite the fact that it is not at that weight class. He did earn a title shot, just not at that division. Vitor has not earned another title shot yet. Also, Aldo is lacking challengers in a way that Silva is not. Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas are not at all the same as Chris Weidman.

I'm done, I've gone on too long as it is. Your turn, who is more deserving of the #2 ranking in the middleweight division?

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