Despite being a slight favorite, Chris Weidman again proved why he is the UFC middleweight champion with a strong victory over former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the main event at UFC 175. The fight was a gritty, five-round war. However, it was Weidman who was able to control the Octagon and get the better of Machida on many of their exchanges.
In addition, Weidman also managed to land crucial takedowns and ground strikes on Machida that likely edged the fight in his favor. After Weidman won the middleweight title, fans and critics called the win a fluke because of Anderson Silva‘s showboating. This win over another all-time great proves that Weidman is not a fluke champion.
Weidman has, without a doubt, earned his place in MMA history as one of the greatest of all time. Machida has been a dominant force at multiple weight classes for years. In just his third MMA fight, Machida knocked out Rich Franklin when the latter was undefeated. Eventually, Machida came to the UFC and dominated everyone put in front of him on the way to winning the UFC light heavyweight title. Even at middleweight, Machida put together great wins over Mark Munoz and former DREAM and Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi (ranked No. 7 in UFC’s middleweight). The point is this: Weidman beating Machida is a pretty big deal and a huge notch on his belt.
Besides Weidman, only one other fighter ever went the distance with Machida. That fighter was Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 in 2009. Many people believed Machida actually lost that fight. In some ways, Weidman’s performance reminded me of that bout. Weidman utilized an excellent gameplan. He controlled the center of the Octagon, kept distance and disrupted Machida’s usual stick-and-move, hit-but-not-getting-hit techniques. Machida’s style often gives many top fighters fits. Machida makes a lot of great fighters look terrible, and he could not effectively do that to Weidman at UFC 175.
Weidman has now successfully defended his belt twice. No matter what happened in his fights with Silva, he fought one of the toughest fighters to date, dominated the bout and came out on top. Weidman’s title reign is not a fluke, and he is one of the very best fighters to ever step into the cage.