Chris Weidman finally got the chance to prove his victories over Anderson Silva in consecutive middleweight title fights weren't a fluke when he defended his strap against Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 175 tonight (Sat., July 5, 2014) at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After a "Fight of the Year" contender, I think it's safe to say MMA fans believe him.
Because he was fighting Machida, the action was slow early, neither fighter able to land anything particularly meaningful. In fact, the champion's game plan seemed to be pressure and Octagon control, two facets of the fight he could control simply by pressing the action and keeping the center of the cage for himself.
Maybe he wasn't landing hard shots on a consistent basis but he constantly had "The Dragon" circling away and backing out. That looks good to those pesky and ever difficult judges who would ultimately decide a winner here.
The real drama came late. Weidman was clearly in control after the first three rounds, seemingly taking all three to go up enough that he just needed to cruise to the scorecards.
Then the Brazilian challenger landed a few hard left hands in the fourth and had the champion rocked and backing up. He blasted Weidman a number of times, taking his breath away. We know this because the gas tank he had going in was quite obviously depleted going out.
But in the fifth round, Weidman showed the heart of a champion -- sorry for the lame cliche, but the shoe fits -- and gutted out a furious late onslaught to survive to the cards, maybe even stealing the final frame with a takedown near the end.
The final scores from the judges: 49-45, 48-47, and 49-46.
And just like that, MMA is fun again.