Chris Weidman is the UFC middleweight champion. He has defeated perhaps the greatest MMA fighter in history on two occasions. He also happens to sport an unblemished record. Yet the man, in the words of famous comic Rodney Dangerfield, can’t get any respect.

Weidman should be one of the UFC’s brightest up-and-coming stars. He’s the prototypical “All American” guy and comes from the East Coast. He wrestled at the NCAA Division I level, beat some of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artists at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling competitions and has yet to get into trouble outside the cage. Heck, Weidman even had to suffer through Hurricane Sandy like us common folk. A blue-chip prospect who has validated all the hype surrounding him—Matt Serra pegged him as a world champion all the way back in 2010—should be heralded as the ultimate success story. Yet, in Weidman’s recent run to UFC glory, the story has always been focused on his opponent.

Despite a dazzling performance of dominance against Mark Munoz, there were still skeptics on the merit of his victory. After Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva at UFC 162, the win was “tarnished” by some due to the in-cage antics of Silva. Despite the fact that Weidman had already won the first round in their initial meeting, “The Spider” was still a trendy pick leading up to UFC 168. Weidman again dominated the Brazilian, though, dropping Silva in the first round. Controversy popped up in the second round when Weidman checked a leg kick from Silva, resulting in a gruesome leg injury for “The Spider” and another victory for Weidman.

Rather than talk about Weidman as being “the next big thing,” fans were still fixated on the idea that Weidman had yet to earn his UFC gold. Even Silva himself wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Silva would later change his tune and move on from the Weidman losses, but the stigma surrounding the UFC middleweight champ remains.

Weidman will have the chance to remove that stigma at UFC 175, but he needs a definitive finish in order to do so. It won’t be easy. Opponents routinely have a tough time “looking good” while facing former UFC light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. It doesn’t have to come by way of knockout or submission, but Weidman needs a unanimous decision at the least. To his credit, Weidman is aware that he’ll have critics no matter what happens, but that group of fans can be effectively silenced with a definitive end to his title clash with Machida.

Machida remains one of the more perplexing fighters for opponents to figure out, and if Weidman can succeed in defeating him, it will be a victory in multiple ways. Not only will Weidman retain his UFC middleweight title, but he’ll go down as one of the very few men to have truly been able to figure out the “Machida Puzzle.” The Brazilian may have lost some of his luster since “The Machida Era” came crumbling down, but Machida is without a doubt one of the sport’s best. A definitive win over Machida would also give the champion a signature win that comes completely without controversy. Regardless of how ridiculous it is to discredit Weidman’s two wins over Silva, the fact remains that the two fights are mired by the fact that Silva was clowning around in the first meeting and suffered a horrendous injury in the second.

As one of the sport’s best fighters, Weidman should be enjoying the aura of invincibility that comes with being an UFC champion. But if the past is any indication, he has no issues with playing the role of underdog and proving people wrong. After all, he’s already done the impossible by defeating “The Spider” not once, but twice.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.