Give him the respect he deserves

LAS VEGAS -- A UFC middleweight title fight more than one year in the ...
Staring up into the face of love, eh?
Chris "All-American" Weidman emphatically put doubts about his worthiness for the title of UFC middleweight champion to the sword last night by pounding the hell out of Vitor Belfort's skull in UFC 187:
Weidman retained his middleweight title by finishing Vitor Belfort by TKO in the first round Saturday night here at MGM Grand and then addressed all his detractors afterward. 
"Hey, stop doubting me," Weidman shouted to the fans in an interview with Joe Rogan. "It's enough. Stop doubting me. You better join the team now. This is my last invitation. Join the team. I love you."

Weidman has now finished Anderson Silva twice, beaten Lyoto Machida and taken out Belfort. Yet, the Long Island, N.Y., native still thinks not enough people give him credit.

"I'm for real," Weidman said. "I felt that after the Machida fight there was a good group of people that started following and there was believers. But with the time off, the haters just grew stronger and stronger, so I had to just come in here and do my thing again."

He certainly did. Belfort caught Weidman early with some big punches. During a flurry against the cage, it seemed like Weidman might have been in trouble. He wasn't. The former All-American college wrestler shook it off, took Belfort down and easily slipped into a dominant position.

Weidman (13-0) by ground-and-pound TKO was basically academic at that point with Belfort seemingly out of gas.
I didn't watch his fight, or the Jones/Cormier match. I did get a chance to watch the Weidman/Machida fight back at UFC 175 last year, and I can tell you this: from what I saw, based on the five rounds that Weidman fought, he is absolutely the real deal.

His victories against Anderson Silva were not flukes. The highlights from UFC 162 give you a very limited idea of just how good Chris Weidman really is:

Unfortunately, they don't give you the full picture. The full fight showed that, as dangerous as Anderson Silva was (and still is), Chris Weidman had all of the tools necessary to take him down- which he quite literally did during that fight by forcing Silva to go to ground.

The reason I bring this up is because I was listening to the senior belts at my martial arts school talking about the upcoming Weidman-Belfort fight with a real sense of boredom. They just weren't excited or interested in the fight, because they felt as if Chris Weidman wasn't a truly great fighter.

And try as I might (and did) to change that perception, the feeling remained that there was simply no way that the legendary Anderson Silva- whose repertoire as a fighter truly defies understanding- could have been beaten by some shmuck.

Well, Mr. Weidman conclusively proved last night that there was nothing offhand or lucky about his victory. He beat Vitor Belfort fair and square- by taking him to the ground and then beating him like a drum.

And remember, Vitor Belfort is a man who failed not one, but two tests for banned substances. One can argue about whether or not such substances should be allowed in sport; I personally think that, given how rife steroid usage is at the elite level in most sports, there isn't much point in banning it, but that's a discussion for another time.

The fact remains, though, that Vitor Belfort, whether he is on drugs or not, is a damned dangerous opponent. This is the man that very nearly submitted Jon Jones at UFC 152 3 years ago, after all.

And Chris Weidman made him look average.

All of which simply tells me one thing: Chris Weidman is a worthy and deserving champion of the UFC middleweight division.

I became a fan when I saw how he methodically took apart Anderson Silva in both of his fights against the man. I remained a fan when I saw him take everything that Lyoto Machida had and still came back to win convincingly on points. And I continue to be a fan now that I've seen how he dominated one of the most dangerous contenders in his division.

This is a man worthy of respect and admiration. He is a true champion. Those who dislike him for beating Anderson Silva need to get real: he earned those victories.


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