To fight injured, or to pull out of the fight? That's the age old question plaguing mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters and their coaches lately.
Perhaps no more so than coach of former UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Ray Longo, who not once considered throwing in the towel when his "All-American" pupil was getting manhandled by current 185-pound titleholder Luke Rockhold in the latter rounds of a UFC 194 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event last December.
Little did spectators in attendance that night (Sat., Dec. 12, 2015), as well as the hundreds of thousands watching around the globe, know, Weidman marched onward into his fourth title defense at less than 100 percent.
From Longo's conversation with ESPN:
"He had a fractured foot in two places. We tried to work around it, but I think mentally it had an effect on him, because he wasn't able to push the cardio the right way. He has fought with injuries before. I've seen this guy walk through fire before â but as his coach, I feel bad. Maybe I should have been more vocal about this or that. You can't make excuses. His teammate, Aljamain Sterling, was banged up going into his fight on Dec. 11 and he won. So, you never know. If you decide to fight, what can you do during camp? Put a boot on him, so someone takes a picture and he's walking around in a boot? He didn't wear one. It's a nightmare. And these guys are my friends, so I'm in a weird spot sometimes. You basically have to tell them they're not doing it."
Indeed Weidman is no stranger to injuries. The Long Islander has dealt with shoulder and knee issues in the past.
For what it's worth, Rockhold himself fought with a bad case of staph infection and looked mighty fine putting Weidman's face through a paper shredder. The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) staple then received a hero's welcome upon returning to his California base camp following the lopsided victory, later revealing that Weidman had been champing at the bit for a rematch.
Well consider UFC president Dana White a genie in a bottle because Weidman's wish has been granted. White is targeting a rematch between the talented duo for UFC 199 in June.
You can expect to see a new and improved Weidman when he locks horns with Rockhold for a second time.
Anyone taking these early odds?