COMMENTARY | Despite his shocking knockout of the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Chris Weidman will likely never get the proper recognition for defeating Anderson Silva. With everything from the fight being fixed to Silva only lost the fight because he played around too much being thrown around, Weidman is in a position where he may be the champion, but he's not being treated like a man who earned his stripes. What Weidman needs is validation and the only way to receive that is by proving that his victory over The Spider was no fluke.
Which is why Chris Weidman needs this rematch far more than Anderson Silva to avoid being the James "Buster" Douglas of mixed martial arts.
Now, let's get this out of the way. Chris Weidman was nowhere near the level of underdog that Buster Douglas was when he entered his fight with Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990. Weidman earned every bit of the opportunity to face Silva for that title. However, where Weidman and Douglas are similar is that they were virtually unknown outside of die hard fans of the sport. Casual fans tuned in only to see Tyson annihilate Douglas. Nobody gave Douglas (who was 29-4-1 at the time) a chance to beat the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson. Critics noticed slippage in Tyson's training but not enough to give Douglas a chance. So what happened on that fateful night in Tokyo was that an overconfident Tyson who clearly wasn't at his best was taken out by a man who had no fear of his mystique.
In many ways, Weidman entered the Octagon at UFC 162 the same way Douglas entered the ring at the Tokyo Dome.
Even though Chris Weidman possessed a great deal of confidence and reassurance from his MMA peers, the fact remained that he was widely unknown outside of MMA circles. For the casual MMA fan and those who only watch when the champions fight, UFC 162 was supposed to be yet another Anderson Silva exhibition in artful devastation. When Silva lost in the manner that he did, the first thing that crossed those people's minds was that he threw the fight or wasn't taking it seriously. The second thing that they thought about was "Who the heck is Chris Weidman?"
Even though Weidman is undefeated in his MMA career, his resume doesn't feature any names that would suggest that he could defeat Silva. Although he has looked impressive, the names Mark Munoz, Demian Maia, Tom Lawlor and Jesse Bongfeldt do not exactly move causal fans into believing that Weidman could upend Silva. Those that watch MMA regularly know of Weidman's ability inside of the cage ranging from his impressive wrestling pedigree and always improving striking to his incredibly underrated jiu jitsu game.
Nevertheless, Weidman's victory has been viewed as a lucky punch rather than an incredibly dangerous fighter brimming with confidence and not allowing the Silva mystique to sabotage his chances inside of the Octagon. Even with the loss, Silva's legacy is secure as one of (if not the) greatest fighter in the history of MMA. However, Weidman still has work to do in order to prove that he possesses the goods to be the heir to Silva's throne.
Buster Douglas achieved a bit of fame with the victory that ranged from his own video game to being a special guest referee in an episode of the World Wrestling Federation's "WWF The Main Event." But as the years went by -- punctuated by an embarrassing loss to Evander Holyfield -- the history books would only bookmark him as the guy who beat Mike Tyson. Weidman doesn't want to be a bookmark in Anderson Silva's history book, he wants to begin writing his own legacy.
For Weidman, a rematch against an Anderson Silva that will no doubt be more motivated than ever to avenge his loss and prove that Weidman's victory was more a fluke than a formality will set the stage for the New Yorker to show the world that he is truly the real deal. A rematch will most certainly be the biggest MMA fight of the year and a spectacle in its own right. There will be much curiosity as to what a focused Silva can do against a Weidman that is now looking to validate himself as the king of the middleweights and deserving of the top half of the 10 best pound for pound fighters in the UFC.
Without the rematch, we will be left to wonder "What If?" If Silva were to move on and face other opponents and defeat them (who there is for him to fight outside of Weidman or Jon Jones is a mystery in itself), most will chalk Weidman's win up to him defeating a fighter that was bored and ended up being caught sleeping at the wheel. There isn't enough competition currently in the middleweight division for Weidman to set himself apart from the best of the best champions in the UFC. Rather, the 185 lbs division is littered with Silva leftovers (Sonnen, Belfort, Okami) or fighters who have lost in recent fights (Rockhold, Bisping).
What Weidman will want once the shine of being the newly minted middleweight champion wears off is respect. He doesn't want to be the man who beat a clowning Silva. Weidman wants to be the man that took out The Spider at his best. Defeating Silva in a highly anticipated rematch that will likely be viewed by more people than just about any other UFC event and will give Weidman the validation he deserves. If he loses, well, then he was beaten by the better man and it would likely set up a massive trilogy. Either way, Chris Weidman does not want to be the Buster Douglas of mixed martial arts. He deserves more than that.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Anderson Silva
- Chris Weidman
- Mike Tyson
- Buster Douglas