Sunday, 30 June 2013

Chris Weidman and His Dubious Train of Hype

With UFC 162 fast approaching the organisation is trying to sell Chris Weidman as an unbeaten phenom, a perfect storm to blow away the most dominant champion in the history of the sport. While it sounds very exciting, the reality is quite different. Numerous fans have expressed negative opinions on Weidman as a contender to the Middleweight title. Today we will examine the legitimacy of Chris Weidman as a number one contender.

Chris Weidman is being advertised as a young talent with a whole glorified career ahead of him. With only 9 professional fights on his record it may appear to be true, however in reality he is already 29 years old. In the MMA of today, a fighter in his late twenties is usually only a couple of years away of reaching the hay day of his career. Compared to a 23 year old welterweight Rory MacDonald who at the moment arguably does not get half of the hype Weidman is getting, he should be a seasoned veteran in the fast evolving environment of today’s mixed martial arts. However, Chris is not a veteran, he has a decent 9-0 record with 5 UFC victories, but at the moment his career leaves an impression that the contender has not been tested at the highest levels of the competition. 

The UFC Middleweight division has been damaged by an unprecedented domination of its champion. Anderson Silva has beaten Vitor Belfort (current #2 middleweight), Yushin Okami (#3) and Chael Sonnen (#9). The #4 contender Michael Bisping seems to lose every time he gets close to a title shot. Both Ronaldo Souza (#5) and Constantinos Philippou (#6) are a couple of big wins away from a title shot. #7 Luke Rockhold had a lot of hype coming out of Strikeforce as a Middleweight champion but blew most of it away with a spinning heel hook loss to Vitor Belfort. #8 Mark Munoz seems like old news at this point. Talking about current #9 contender Chael Sonnen getting another crack at the middleweight title sounds like science fiction. Having given the current Middleweight rankings a quick look, it is obvious that the division is not going through its best days. It has not been for a while now. That is one of the main reasons why a fighter like Chris Weidman is getting a title shot.

 It appears that most of the respect to Chris Weidman comes from his training partners. Former UFC Welterweight champion and Weidman’s training partner Matt Serra has been very vocal when expressing his opinion on Chris: ‘’I believe this guy is a future UFC Middleweight champion. Chris is very good and I believe that sky is the limit for this kid. He has so much potential, it’s scary’’. 

But is praise of the respected training partners enough to get you a title fight? Shouldn’t the value of a fighter be proved in a cage, not in a gym? The main problem is that Weidman has not proved himself enough in the cage just yet. His undefeated 9-0 record is fine but by no means impressive. The main issue with Weidman’s record is that it lacks big names and big wins. The decision victory against Damian Maia just proved that the Brazilian should drop down to Welterweight division. In a popular opinion a fight against Mark Munoz did not verify anything. Munoz was sloppy, got tired quickly and probably was and perhaps still is overrated. 

We may ask ourselves why with a lack of big fights and experience Chris Weidman is fighting for a title in arguably the biggest fight of the summer. The answer is very simple: at the moment Anderson Silva does not have any noteworthy opponents in the Middleweight division. With all the rumours about a possible super fight match up against George St-Pierre or Jon Jones having not materialised we ended up with a very uninspiring middleweight division. However, the situation would dramatically change if Weidman managed to defeat Silva. All of a sudden we would have a bunch of interesting match ups to make.

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