While I always root for Team USA in sporting events, I know when they are not likely to win. I am not expecting the USMNT to win the World Cup anytime soon, but that will not stop me from cheering them on. The United States is not often the underdog, so I always have to throw my support to my country whenever it finds itself in that situation.
I was going to support my fellow American, but I did not have complete faith in him to beat whom I consider to be the #GOAT, the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Don’t get me wrong, Weidman is a monster in his own right. Heading into that fight, he was undefeated, and had finished six of his nine opponents. On most nights, against most opponents, I would easily see Weidman as a favorite, but he was not facing just any fighter.
Silva had never lost in the UFC and had not lost a fight in over seven years — eight if you don’t count him DQing himself. He would toy with his opponents, and truly seemed like he felt untouchable. Weidman was putting his undefeated record on the line, and I thought he wouldn’t leave the Octagon with it still intact.
Boy, was I wrong.
Weidman kept steadfast through all of Silva’s taunting and foolishness, sticking with his game plan. He kept walking him down and throwing jabs to get his timing down. It only took one punch across the chin to send the GOAT to the canvas, and to have an American wear the UFC Middleweight Championship belt for the first time since 2006.
This moment will forever cement Weidman as a fan favorite inside of the Octagon for myself and for plenty of other fans. While the second fight ended with an unfortunate injury to Silva, nothing can tarnish their first showdown.
My fandom and appreciation for Weidman extends beyond the Octagon. I was fortunate enough to meet him before I was in MMA media, and I didn’t know what to expect. He is a big time athlete and could act however he wanted to and no one would tell him otherwise. However, he seemed as excited to talk to a fan as I was talking to him. He instantaneously cracked jokes and buddied up to not only me, but anyone he came in contact with. It is that kind of personality that has made people want to see him back atop the 185-pound division.
He has also helped the sport immeasurably by being one of the main people campaigning to legalize MMA in New York. A huge chunk of the praise for UFC 205 should go to Weidman for the time and energy he put into making sure this card could happen. There is no other fighter that could properly represent New York on this card quite like he can.
The knockout of Silva may or may not be his most memorable moment inside the Octagon since he's still got plenty of years left in in his fighting career, but Weidman will always stand out as a man that hasn't let his ego get the better of him, and one that has continued to make the UFC a better promotion.