Chris Weidman gets the chance to finally earn the respect that has been lacking so far in his middleweight title reign if he can defeat Lyoto Machida this weekend at UFC 175. The highly anticipated main event match-up pits an improving, unbeaten fighter against an Octagon veteran who is looking to join very exclusive company.
For some reason there remain doubters of Weidman’s abilities despite back-to-back victories over the legendary Anderson Silva. While “The All-American” dominated both encounters, he just hasn’t gotten the praise that he deserves because of the way those fights ended. His detractors contend he won the title via knockout at UFC 162 because of Silva’s clowning, while the second win at UFC 168 came because of “The Spider’s” broken leg. Weidman can remove any doubts and prove he’s one of the best fighters in the sport with a victory over Machida.
Weidman is 11-0 to start his career and has reeled off seven consecutive UFC wins. He holds other notable victories over Mark Munoz, Demian Maia and Tom Lawler. The talented 30-year-old champion has recorded eight finishes by way of knockout or submission, and has showcased outstanding wrestling skills and formidable power. Weidman also has strong jiu-jitsu skills.
“The Dragon” is looking to become just the third UFC fighter to capture titles in two different weight classes. The former light heavyweight champion would join B.J. Penn and Randy Couture as the only fighters to have accomplished that impressive feat if he can become the first man to beat Weidman.
Machida has been quick to make his mark on the middleweight division by producing a devastating head-kick knockout of Munoz and a comfortable unanimous decision victory against Gegard Mousasi. He opted to move down from the 205-pound ranks after a controversial decision loss to Phil Davis at UFC 163 and hasn’t looked back. He’s seemingly had a higher aggression level as a 185-pound competitor.
Machida originally captured gold by knocking out Rashad Evans to win the 205-pound title at UFC 98. He would eventually lose the belt to Mauricio Rua, and would later fail in a bid to reclaim a championship when he was submitted by Jon Jones at UFC 140. The Brazilian has faced elite competition during the course of his career having also squared off against Tito Ortiz, Quinton ”Rampage” Jackson, Dan Henderson and Couture. He won’t be intimidated by the task at hand or being in the main event spotlight.
Machida’s karate style is an unorthodox one and has always been a difficult puzzle to solve. He has clearly rejuvenated his career with the move down in weight classes. However, Weidman is at the top of his game right now and will be a difficult assignment even for someone of Machida’s career pedigree.
It’s a match-up that should produce plenty of drama this weekend in Las Vegas. The result will either see the continuation of the Weidman era or will usher in a new Machida title reign.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for RantSports.com