On July 5, 2014, Chris Weidman defended his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight title for the second consecutive time, turning away Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 in a very entertaining "Fight of the Night."
In the process, "All American" proved he was indeed "the real deal."
But what you didn't know is that the back-and-forth title fight (video) was dangerously close to not happening, as Weidman revealed during a recent interview on The MMA Hour that prior to his showdown against "The Dragon," he was dealing with injuries he felt were going to force him to bow out.
"I went through a two-day period where I was very nervous and it was really messing with my head, where I felt I was going to have to pull out of the fight because I couldn't touch my thumbs or my fingers together. I couldn't grab anything. I couldn't squeeze a toothbrush, I couldn't brush my teeth. I could do it with my right hand, but not my left. So you start wondering, 'how I'm going to fight if I can't do these little things?' I was kind of scaring the crap out of myself. I went to the doctor's office and I got an X-ray and I was really hoping it wasn't broken. It wasn't broken so they did an MRI. So all day long I was waiting for results on that. I was really pissed off and depressed. How was I going to deal with is? It was a bad situation. Since it's not broken, I'm not going to pull out, but how am I going to train these next two weeks if I can't even touch my fingers together and I can't punch? We come to find that it's ligaments that were messed up, sprained. I got a cortisone injection which they told me it wouldn't help much because it wasn't inflammation. It really didn't help. But in a couple of days I was able to grapple, but I didn't punch for two and a half weeks leading up to the fight. So I wasn't going to pull out, if I was going to go through pain, I'd rather it be in the fight and figure it out from there."
When asked if his issues affected his performance in the title fight, Weidman was quick to dismiss that notion, giving all the credit to Machida for being a tough opponent. He also admits that he underestimated how bad Lyoto "wanted it" and just how much "championship heart" he possessed.
"No, no, no. I can say that I had the worst camp of my life, but I fought well and I went out there and I did my thing. The camp wasn't the best. I just think Lyoto Machida is that good. I think I performed good, but no, it don't think it affected my fight at all."
As far as what's next for him, Weidman says he isn't too sure, but made no secret that he want's to fight Vitor Belfort next. Which is why he hopes "The Phenom" gets all of his drug test issues in order. As far as additional drug testing for the Brazilian, Weidman says he won't "demand" it, but he would kindly "recommend" it.
"I do want to fight Vitor Belfort. He's the guy who's been floating around the top for awhile now. He's another legend. I've kind of grew to enjoy fighting legends that I got into the sport watching and admiring. Obviously he has his drug test issue going on. I hope somehow he can figure it out and we can get him licensed and, I really don't know how that's working. But that's the guy I do want to fight."
If that fight doesn't take place, then the winner of Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza could be tempting, said Weidman. As for a fight against Luke Rockhold, Chris says the former Strikeforce champion likely needs another win before he gets a crack at the UFC crown.
Until UFC matchmakers decide who gets next dibs against Weidman, the 185-pound king will be in Los Angeles to see if he walks home with an ESPY Award for "Best Upset."
While in "Tinseltown," Weidman might also stop by the William Morris Endeavor (WME) offices to see if there's any work for him while he awaits his next Octagon challenge.