Was former UFC champion Chris Weidman ever an elite fighter?

Chris Weidman is 1-5 in his last six fights after another knockout loss on Friday in Boston. (Getty Images)
Chris Weidman is 1-5 in his last six fights after another knockout loss on Friday in Boston. (Getty Images)

On Friday night, Chris Weidman continued his 4-year skid into the light heavyweight division after the undefeated Dominick Reyes knocked the former UFC middleweight champion out in the first round. The All-American was once the king of the MMA world after dethroning the dominant Anderson Silva as a 2-1 betting underdog, then defeating him again in the rematch. Many experts considered the Long Island native the future of the 185-pound division, but it has been a rocky road for him. Over the past four years, Weidman has won just one fight, while suffering five KO/TKO losses in the process.

Despite his recent record, the 35-year-old has never fallen into the” gatekeeper” role that many veterans face. He never steps back and always fights tough opponents. Because of this, it always seems as he is one win away from getting back into title contention or fighting for the belt.

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While Weidman’s impact on the sport is undeniable, it seems the UFC, fans and Weidman himself have all somehow convinced the MMA world he is still a viable contender. But why? Who has he beaten in his career to earn him this status? Let’s go through his title run.

Weidman ended Silva era seemingly on a fluke

After starting 9-0, a 29-year-old Chris Weidman fought Anderson Silva, who had consecutively defended his title 10 times, a record at the time. Silva seemed unstoppable, but Weidman came into the fight confidently and had a competitive first round. Silva looked to turn the tables by taunting Weidman and dropping his hands; something Silva has done many times in the past. This time was different, and Weidman caught Silva, knocking him out in infamous fashion.

Seemingly a fluke, the rematch was booked six months later, and Silva, again, came in as the betting favorite. Weidman looked to stun the critiques and came out strong, knocking Silva down in the first round. Silva recovered and again looked to take the fight to Weidman, but disaster struck again for Silva as he threw a leg kick at Weidman and compound fractured his leg.

So are these two lucky wins for Weidman, or was he poised to win them both regardless? One thing is for sure, the Anderson Silva era was over. After losing two to Weidman, he went on to lose 4 of his next 5. This was the All-American’s time to take over the UFC.

He defended his belt twice, once to Lyoto Machida, and once to Vitor Belfort. Both have relatively unimpressive records since title contention. Machida was 3-3 in the UFC and Belfort 2-3. Then along came Luke Rockhold. At 14-2, he was looking like a real test for Weidman. Once again, the champion looked good in the opening round but quickly slowed. The rest of the fight was all Rockhold, and eventually finished the job in the 4th round.

Weidman never looked bad in his losses

So Weidman lost, big deal. Everyone gets caught one time, and this must have started a long title run for Rockhold, right? Right? Nope. Rockhold lost three of his next four and is currently contemplating retirement. So now the discussion moves to not only who has he beat, but who were his other losses to?

Weidman, Machida, Belfort and Rockhold all have similar losses on their records. Killers like Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi, and Ronaldo Souza have all made their impression. So this must’ve been a sign of a new generation of fighters taking over the middleweight division? With Romero being 42 years old, Mousasi, 34, and Souza, 39, that is not the case.

So this may lead you to think Weidman was never what the UFC thought he was and was simply a case of taking the right fight at the right time. Was his journey with the belt flawed from the start? Injuries plagued Weidman his entire career. These injuries have set his training back on numerous occasions. It is also possible these injuries may have affected his mobility and strength. Also, Weidman has never looked bad in his losses before ultimately getting caught with an unexpected finishing strike. It seems that he does not possess the chin anymore needed to compete with the current high-level strikers.

So what is next for Weidman? In his post-fight interview, he claimed he will “be back better than ever.” Many fans cringed at the thought of Weidman returning after seeing him lose in such a fashion once again. UFC president Dana White recommended he “retire or return to middleweight.” Whatever he chooses to do, it’s hard not to root for him and feel bad for the recent run the All-American has gone on because you know his heart and competitive spirit is still in it.

So what do you think? Will Chris Weidman go down as an elite fighter? Answer the poll below and tell us why you answered the way you did in the comments.

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