Playing The Waiting Game – The UFC 168 Aftermath
By Christopher Jester
If last Saturday’s match-up between Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva was supposed to offer some closure to their rivalry, then it came at an abrupt and brutal end as Silva broke his leg and came crumpling to the mat in pain and agony. The harshness of the end felt uncanny and almost as if it was cheating not only Weidman and Silva but the fans as well. The reality is that MMA is a harsh sport, and it sometimes these things just happen. But it does leave so many answers unfulfilled. As a whole UFC 168 left some questions, and most of it is mired by what is next for the UFC.
If you think about the landscape of 2013, the UFC put on more shows and had some of its most dominating champions look merely human inside the Octagon. Whether it was Alexander Gustafsson’s near victory over Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre barely defending (most think he lost) his title against Johnny Hendricks, or Anderson Silva being knocked out by the unheralded Chris Weidman; it was just that sort of year. To top it all off, two of those fighters may never grace the Octagon again as GSP decided to take a sabbatical away from the UFC, and Anderson Silva suffered that gruesome leg injury that could put his career in jeopardy.
While stars were also made in these near victories, so much comes back to simply waiting on whether their efforts will matter in the coming months. Hendricks will face Robbie Lawler for the title vacated by St-Pierre. Gustafsson has to get through Jimi Manuwa in hopes to cash on a title shot, and Chris Weidman once again fails to completely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the best at 185lb.
Some could argue that he did prove that twice over with his victories over Anderson Silva. Simply put, it was no fluke that Weidman knocked out Silva. It was evident in the second fight that the man has some power in his fists as he crumpled Silva again early in the first round and nearly finished it with some precise ground and pound. What is evident however is that both felt quite eerie in the end. It could be that the first fight simply just did not seem real after all those years of Silva’s domination of the middleweight division. The second was just sad and so sudden that it leaves many of us with questions on Weidman’s abilities.
Ironically enough, the second fight with Silva proved that we should not question his talent. He controlled the match-up, and had Silva in a tough spot. Had Silva not had cut Weidman open at the end of the first it would have seemed like a one-sided affair that was easily going in the direction of the champion. Then the broken leg happened. The problem was Weidman’s attempt at trying to solicit his checked leg kick as calculating and purposeful of breaking Silva’s leg instead of it simply being a freak accident in which it was. It was an attempt at closure for himself, but it was a poor one for the viewers who chucked out money for the event.
With a retained belt with a champion with so many questions left unanswered, the UFC has to be patient to see if Weidman is truly the next big thing at middleweight. The All-American will have the blitzing and resurgent Vitor Belfort to help with that. Although their match-up* is not set, this bout is inevitable. Few have had a more standout year than Vitor Belfort and no one in the middleweight division deserves an opportunity at the belt more. Weidman will face a monster in Belfort whose speed and punching power will showcase the merits of both men. It should be the match-up that we all expected from this second Weidman-Silva fight and it should make for an exciting affair barring any bizarre footnote attached to it.
It is a hard thing to learn how to be patient. In the fight business, we want our opportunities as soon as we can get it. It can either pay off greatly or end the hype all too quickly. Following UFC 168, can Chris Weidman put the Silva fights behind him and earn a victory without criticism? We’ll have to wait and see. The important thing is that these options and questions will become available at some point. It is just a matter of playing the waiting game in the meantime.
*Update – According to ESPN.com, the UFC is planning to promote a middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort in Las Vegas. UFC CEO and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta confirmed the plans to ESPN.com via text message on Thursday. Weidman will be seeking the second defense of his 185-pound title.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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