UFC

Weidman retains middleweight belt as Silva breaks leg at UFC 168

Anderson Silva kicks Chris Weidman in their UFC middleweight championship bout
Anderson Silva broke his leg kicking Chris Weidman in a freak accident at UFC 168.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.

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LAS VEGAS

All of the hype, all of the buildup, and none of the satisfaction of a conclusive finish.

In a terribly unfortunate ending to an anticipated rematch, Anderson Silva broke his leg on a checked kick, bringing the UFC 168 main event to a finish at 1:16 of the second round. The official ruling was a TKO win for the champion Chris Weidman.

If there was to be any kind of conclusion drawn from what we saw in the brief time the fight took place, it was that Weidman didn’t necessarily beat Silva, but he did beat him up.

Weidman easily took the first round, dropping Silva with a right hand behind the ear from Silva’s favored position, the clinch. The champion spent the rest of the round beating up Silva (33-6) on the ground with punches and elbows, landing 19 significant strikes in the frame, but was unable to finish the former champ.

“I’ll be honest, I want to say that no matter what happened with the result now or after, he’s still known as the greatest of all time,” Weidman said. “I wish him the best and God bless him.”

The leg break was no sheer accident, however. Leg kicks were Silva’s most important and effective weapon in the first fight between them, and Weidman said he spent a large portion of his training camp working on checking kicks. Silva’s full power strike caught Weidman just above the shin and Silva’s left leg snapped below the knee in a scene that was eerily reminiscent of Corey Hill’s horrific leg break in 2008.

That broken leg kept Hill out of action for well over a year. Silva, who at 38 years old, has already speculated about retirement in the recent past, may again revisit the idea.

Silva left the cage on a stretcher and was transported to the hospital, where he immediately had surgery performed by Dr. Steven Sanders.

UFC president Dana White called it the worst injury he’d seen during his tenure running the promotion.

“I don’t think it was accidental when you try to check a kick and it works,” Weidman said. “Otherwise if I didn’t check the kick, I’d have a big, bruised leg right now, and he would have picked me apart with leg kicks. So, you try to check leg kicks, and that happened.”

Weidman is likely to move on to a matchup with No. 1 contender Vitor Belfort, who was cageside watching at the MGM Grand, though a timeframe for the bout is unknown.

“What I want is in the hands of the guy named Chris Weidman,” Belfort said afterward. “It belongs to me.”

“He’s a completely different fighter from Anderson,” Weidman said of the matchup with Belfort. “He’s very explosive, he’s strong, he’s good on the ground and his feet. He’s going to be a great challenge for me. I’m excited for the fight.”

Weidman, now 11-0, has been an underdog in each of his last two fights, only to emerge the division’s elite fighter. In parts of four rounds against Silva, Weidman out-landed him, took Silva down twice, and walked away with the gold both times.

“People can’t fathom that I’m coming in here beating these guys,” he said. “But slowly but surely, people will start believing in me.”

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