Chris Weidman Has Earned Your Respect

“His name is Christopher J. Weidman, commander of the Armies of Long Island, General of Power MMA, and loyal servant to the true emperor, Ray Longo. Destroyer of a Spider’s shin, slayer of a Brazilian dragon. And he will have is vengeance, in this fight or the next.”

They said the first fight was a fluke, a mirage. A concoction of legendary hubris and the undefeated wrath Father Time. Chris Weidman was merely in the right place at the right time, and surely Anderson Silva would have his revenge.

The second encounter was a freak accident, an act of punishment by the mixed martial arts gods themselves.  “The Spider” had Weidman right where he wanted him, it was only a matter of time before he reclaimed the gold that was rightfully his. The catastrophe that befell Silva simply defied the adage that lightning never strikes the same place twice.

To many a fan, this was the most reasonable explanation. Never mind the fact that Weidman dominated Silva for nearly every second they were locked in a cage together. Disregard the fact that Weidman preceded his victories with a dominant display of wrestling and a vicious knockdown, respectively.

Weidman was simply the luckiest man to step foot inside the Octagon, and once he faced a challenge he couldn’t luck his way through he’d be exposed.

Apparently somebody forgot to tell him that.

If there are any doubters left for the current UFC Middleweight Champion after his victory over Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, I would love to hear what their reasoning is based on. It certainly isn’t logic.

The Baldwin, New York-native answered pretty much any reasonable question fans could still have about his prowess inside the Octagon with his unanimous decision nod over “The Dragon.”

Could he go for five full rounds? Check.

Could he take a clean shot (or two, or twenty)? Check.

Could he defend his title without one of his opponent’s limbs shattering into a million little pieces? I’ll give you one guess. (Check.)

From here on out, the focus on Weidman’s career prospects should shift from whether or not he is truly great to just how great can he be.

With Silva and Machida vanquished, the man dubbed “All-American” has already taken care of the fighter who had a stranglehold on the division for nearly eight years and the foil who is known for his ability to win fights with minimal activity, purportedly his toughest matchup stylistically.

Next up lies a likely bout with Vitor Belfort, who after finding Jesus (and a whole bunch of testosterone),  has run roughshod over everybody in his path not named the Nevada State Athletic Commission. If Belfort can get past the NSAC, and Weidman gets passed him, the champion will have had as impressive a four-fight win streak as anyone in the sport; save maybe current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones.

The picture from there gets a little murkier, as a quartert of former Strikeforce fighters in Jacare Souza, Luke Rockhold, Tim Kennedy, and Gegard Mousasi are all vying to vault up the rankings and secure a title shot.

If Weidman still has 12 pounds of gold wrapped around his waist after barreling through this murderers’ row, he deserves to take his place among the all-time greats.

But maybe that doesn’t happen. Maybe Vitor still has enough power in those head kicks without his special stuff. Maybe Jacare chomps on one of Weidman’s limbs or hell, maybe CB Dolloway finally puts it all together and Peruvian Neckties his way to glory. Crazier things have happened.

Regardless of what the future holds, Chris Weidman has proved that he’s earned the right to be called “champion.” His usurping of the throne has caused the middleweight division to be more exciting than it has been in ages, and his potential climb towards greatness should captivate the entire world of mixed martial arts.

And in the end, that is what matters most. As a MMA fan, there’s really only one question you need to ask yourself:

“Are you not entertained?”

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