November 7, 2018

UFC 230: Chris Weidman's Brutal Defeat Puts Career Into Question

By Raphael Garcia

One of the more painful aspects of being an MMA viewer is watching a fighter’s time at the top come to a crashing halt. There was a time when Chris Weidman was considered one of the best fighters in the world. However, his recent string of misfortune has him facing serious questions about what’s next for him in this sport. Saturday night’s crushing defeat to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza has many wondering whether Weidman can ever return to the form that brought him the UFC Middleweight Championship years ago, and if not, what direction his career should go.

The UFC 230 co-main event saw Weidman doing good work against the Top-5-ranked Souza. His jab was causing problems for the Brazilian and he was scoring points with combinations that kept Jacare from getting into a complete rhythm. Heading into the third round it seemed like Weidman was firmly in control and would earn a much-needed victory in front of his hometown crowd.

But that would not be the case, as Souza would land a thudding right hand that sent the former champion crashing to the mat. It was clear that Weidman was done the moment that he hit the canvas, as he was finished for the fourth time in his last five fights. And what’s most disturbing about this stretch is that Weidman is taking a lot of damage. Even in his lone win against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on Fox 25, he was dropped early and had to rally back to get the submission victory. He does not look like the same fighter that stormed to the top of the middleweight division, defeating MMA legends like Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida, and Anderson Silva twice.

Now, Weidman is at a difficult crossroad. Years of injuries and the compounding damage sustained in these battles should be cause for concern as to how much longer he can keep things up in this sport. At 34 years of age he doesn’t have time on his side. He is still a prominent name in the sport though, so we shouldn't expect the UFC to release him. However, we'll likely see a shift in the way he's booked. There is a path towards rebuilding his credibility by placing him into meaningful fights outside of the title picture, for instance.

But the question is, would Weidman choose that path? Many expected him to be placed on standby as a potential replacement fighter for UFC 234's middleweight title bout between Robert Whittaker and Gastelum, or even booked to face the eventual winner. But even though he has a win over Gastelum, his performance against Jacare has put those thoughts to the wayside. The promotion might instead tee him up for Israel Adesanya or Jared Cannonier, two rising stars in the middleweight division that are expected to continue surging. And given the way both fighters dispatched their opponents on Saturday night, either would be poised to use him as a stepping stone.

Bystanders telling professional fighters that they need to “hang them up” is a practice that many frown upon. Now isn’t the time to have that discussion about Chris Weidman, but based on his recent results, that time may be fast approaching. One has to wonder what’s next for an individual who has continued to struggle with consistently competing against the best fighters in his weight class. Even if he was once the king of the middleweight division, our memories of that time fade with each successive defeat, and it won't be long before he's nothing more than an afterthought.

UFC 230
Chris Weidman vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza def. Chris Weidman via TKO (punches) at 2:46 of Round 3.

UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis took place November 3, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

Click HERE for more UFC 230 Post-Fight Analysis

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