Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold, UFC 194, 12 December 2015
Fight of the Night
What intrigued me most about Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold, was how Luke Rockhold was selling and promoting the fight. Leading up to and through the press interviews, Luke said that his momentum could not be stopped, that his fighting abilities were highly underestimated, and that he was on an entirely higher level compared to Chris Weidman.
I admit that I prescribed a “Brad Pitt Syndrome” to Luke Rockhold – that he was too good looking to be actually good at his craft. Luke has fought some tough competition before but I never considered the middleweight division to be that competitive in the first place.
I always considered the MMA middleweight division to be a relatively lackluster division that didn’t have great fighters and was never really competitive. Rich Franklin was the first big middleweight champion. His popularity came mostly from the UFC leveraging his good looks, his smooth talk, and his former school teacher past stamping him as the American Hero.
Then in 2006, Anderson Silva came into the UFC. Coming from the Chute Box academy with an extensive fight resume from Brazil and Japan, Anderson Silva may have been the first legitimate fighter the UFC middleweight division ever saw. After defeating Rich Franklin for the championship, he reigned as king defeating every single middleweight fighter and a few light heavyweight fighters.
Running out of opponents for their mega star MMA legend, the UFC threw in young and new Chris Weidman. Chris showed promise against opponents like Alessio Sakara, Tom Lawlor, Demian Maia, and Mark Munoz. But none of these guys could really prove that Chris was ready to challenge for Anderson’s belt. The UFC just needed to get Anderson in the cage and on PPV so they could earn more money off him before he had to retire. Little did they know Chris would knock Anderson Silva out in the second round.
Chris Weidman’s win over Anderson Silva was confirmation that the middleweight division was starting to have some legitimate fighters that could become MMA legends. Lyoto Machida dropped down from the Light Heavyweight division. So did Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson. With the addition of Strikeforce fighters like Gegard Moussasi, Tim Kennedy, Jacare Souza, and Luke Rockhold. New fighters like Yoel Romero, Uriah Hall, and Rob Whittaker. The UFC middleweight division was suddenly becoming a potentially interesting place.
Out of this new stable of fighters there were a few that stood out. Yoel Romero the Olympic Freestyle silver medalist from Cuba. Lyoto Machida, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jacare Souza, the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, and Luke Rockhold, the guy who defeated Jacare Souza to be the last Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.
Unfortunately for Luke, he was knocked out by a beautiful spinning heel kick from Vitor Belfort on his first fight in the UFC. Since then, he has devoted himself even more to his training and his craft. He has defeated relevant middleweight fighters to get his chance to fight for the title.
Chris Weidman was elevated to legendary status with his two wins against Anderson Silva. His legacy was further solidified with wins over Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort. Who could challenge this new American Hero?
Luke Rockhold emerges from the swarming shark tank of the new UFC middleweight division. He proclaims that his abilities are on a much higher level than the champion. I can’t wait to see someone back that claim up against the man that defeated Anderson Silva.
The first two and a half round of Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold were a very competitive back and forth. But then in the middle of the third round. Chris Weidman tried for a spinning back kick. A very sloppy half-assed kick that didn’t even seem like was targeting anywhere. Luke took advantage of the situation. He caught the leg and dragged the champion to the ground where he showed everyone just how underestimated his grappling really is. Against a champion with a background in wrestling, Luke got to full-mount position almost too easily. There ensued vision elbows and ground and pound.
Herb Dean surprisingly did not stop the fight – perhaps giving the champion the opportunity he deserves to fight back. At the beginning of the third round, everyone in the stadium could tell that Luke had beat the spirit out of the champ and the belt was as good as his.
Thank goodness for that. Middleweight legends Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman dethroned. Now opens up a new and exciting era of competition in the middleweight division
Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold full fight video