If you wanted a title shot, why didn’t you just say so? Instead, one Mark Munoz had to get his head split open (not to mention pounded on about a dozen more times than necessary thanks to referee Josh Rosenthal) after being soundly dominated over a round and a half.
Now, Weidman is being as clear as possible about his intentions. He doesn’t care that has had just nine MMA and five UFC fights. He doesn’t care that he’s not a “big name” (you can thank the UFC for a lot of that, and headlining a Fuel TV event isn’t quite cutting it, by the way). He doesn’t care that Anderson Silva is the greatest fighter MMA has seen in the sport’s short history.
“I feel like there’s no reason to wait,” Weidman told MMAjunkie.com Radio, seemingly while reading my mind and knowing my first response would be, “it’s too soon.” Weidman went on to say, “It’s time to give the title over to the young and let a new champion reign. I believe I’m the next champion.”
They’re the words of a fighter who not only has never faced defeat, but as he pointed out, has finished every opponent that he has fought after a full training camp. He even has the “company man” angle going for him, citing the many times that he has taken opponents on short notice to help Zuffa out.
Most importantly though, he seems to have earned a shot on merit alone. He has defeated the best middleweight that the UFC has to offer that is not named “Silva” or “Sonnen”, and a fight with Sonnen would be pointless since the UFC would be unlikely to allow Sonnen another title shot anytime soon if he was to beat Weidman, anyway.
The only possible sticking point is that Hector Lombard may be in position to get a shot if he can beat Tim Boetsch impressively next weekend at UFC 149. While Lombard is only really known to serious MMA fans so far (thanks to his exploits in Bellator), the fight with Boetsch will be a higher-profile bout than Weidman’s win on Fuel TV was. Plus, even Munoz was not built up as he should have been prior to Wednesday’s fight. How many casual UFC fans knew he was a top five middleweight?
Whether Weidman is ready to give Anderson Silva a run for his money is debatable. What is not debatable is that he has earned a shot, as there is nobody in the middleweight division right now that is on a better run than he is. I’m not going to be tempted to favor anyone over Silva, but then again, I never imagined Weidman manhandling Munoz the way that he did, either. Who knows what could happen?
When you start asking that question, that means the fight you’re referring to is one that should definitely happen.
–I was really digging the wrestling battles between Aaron Simpson and Kenny Robertson early on in their fight, before Simpson really started to control the action later on in the bout. Lots of great stuff between the two. However, I’m not sure that having such a competitive fight with Robertson bodes well for Simpson in what was supposed to be a promising debut at 170 pounds.
–What was more impressive: James Te Huna’s striking (and confidence) or Joey Beltran’s heart? Beltran took a ton of punishment, and you really can’t fault Te Huna for not putting away a guy that could be run over by a semi truck and likely get up and ask for seconds. Te Huna does a great job of mixing things up (though he gets lazy with the lead leg kicks, often throwing them meaninglessly and with no conviction or setup). My favorite technique of his is the sneaky/quick straight right he kept landing on Beltran early in the fight. Such a great, underutilized punch in MMA.
–In a battle of two guys likely fighting for their jobs, Alex Caceres gave Damacio Page his third UFC win in as many appearances (and fourth straight loss in a Zuffa promotion, dating back to his WEC 52 loss to Demetrious Johnson). Caceres said that he’s moving away from the “Bruce Leeroy” nickname that helped bring him such notoriety on The Ultimate Fighter, and he looked like a very mature fighter while submitting Page from within his active guard. Caceres would be on a three-fight win streak now, if Herb Dean hadn’t deducted two points in an unprecedented and unnecessary gesture for a couple of unintentional groin kicks in his first against Edwin Figueroa.
Adventures in Refereeing
I’m still trying to figure out exactly why Josh Rosenthal has it out for Mark Munoz. There must be some reason, because I can’t think of why else he would allow Munoz to fall flat on his face, then eat almost two dozen hard right hooks to the head while doing next to nothing before stopping the fight. When you’re shouting at your TV, “Stop the damn fight!” like it’s Apollo Creed vs. Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, you know it’s a bad stoppage.
Movin’ On Up Award
This has to go to Weidman, who goes from speculative top ten middleweight to what should be the clear number one contender to Anderson Silva’s throne. Sonnen may still be the second-best middleweight in the world, but with the gangster from West Linn of the picture, the next shot at Silva should rightfully belong to the phenom from New York.
Beautiful Loser Award
Who else but Beltran could win this? If he had just taken a lot of punishment, I would have picked someone else; this isn’t the Wesley “Cabbage” Correira Award. However, Beltran actively fought back throughout the fight and even hurt Te Huna a few times. Beltran wasn’t able to win, but actually seemed to get a little better as the fight wore on and it turned into a war that was more about heart than pure skill. Kudos to him for such a gutsy performance.
Holy $#!% Award
With apologies to Chris Weidman and his brilliantly-timed counter elbow against an aggressive Mark Munoz, this one has to go to Andrew Craig.
If you’re asking, “Who?!?”, you should have watched the prelims. The undefeated Craig was getting absolutely tooled by Rafael Natal throughout nearly all of their preliminary bout, as Natal was a second or two away from stopping Craig early in the second round after clearly winning the first.
Craig somehow survived, leading to not only a memorable in-cage trash talking session, but a right head kick out of nowhere that landed flush (if sloppily) to the left side of Natal’s face, sending him to the canvas and ending the fight with just eight seconds left in the second round. A finish that’s truly worth this award. It’s a shame that the “Of The Night” bonuses regularly go to those with more name recognition instead of what are purely the best finishes and fights. Craig should be $40,000 richer after that improbable comeback and knockout.
If you didn’t see it, I’ve at least found a forum thread with a .gif of the kick (as well as the near-stoppage earlier in the round, if you scroll down the page some more) for you to check out.
Tags: Aaron Simpson, Alex Caceres, Anderson Silva, Andrew Craig, awful refereeing, Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman, James Te-Huna, Joey Beltran, Josh Rosenthal, Kenny Robertson, Mark Munoz, Rafael Natal, UFC, UFC on Fuel 4