After six years, eight months and 22 days, Anderson Silva finally relinquished his hold on the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight throne.
Chris Weidman knocked out a clowning Silva with a left hook and follow-up ground strikes in the UFC 162 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, becoming the sixth middleweight champion in the promotion’s 20-year history. The unbeaten Weidman (10-0, 6-0 UFC) brought the match to a shocking and decisive close 78 seconds into round two.
“I felt I was destined for this, but it still felt a little far-fetched,” Weidman said. “I imagined it a billion times, but it still feels surreal. Ray Longo brought in guys in my camp to play with me and do things to mess with my head. It pisses me off when someone tries to do that to me. I knew little by little I was going to creep up on him and then eventually get him.”
The loss was Silva’s first legitimate defeat since December 2004 and snapped a string of 17 consecutive victories. The 38-year-old Brazilian had never before been stopped by strikes.
“No one is invincible,” Weidman said. “Respect to Anderson. I would love to have a rematch. I didn’t want to say it during my camp, but I looked up to that guy for a long time.”
Weidman took down Silva in the first round, softened him with ground-and-pound and aggressively fished for two leg locks, first a kneebar and then a heel hook. Once “The Spider” returned to his feet, he started the uncomfortable process of toying with his challenger in a scene that has grown familiar to mixed martial arts followers. However, his taunting caught up to him early in the second round, as Weidman floored and finished him at the feet of referee Herb Dean.
“Chris is the champion now,” said Silva, who had held the title since Oct. 14, 2006. “I’ve finished my working. I won’t fight for the belt anymore. Chris is the new champion. No, [I’m not retiring]. I have 10 more fights [on my contract], but I won’t fight any more for the belt. I’m tired. My time for the belt is finished now.”