What Makes Weidman Great
By Matt Benoliel & Steven Rothman
The Fighting News Reporters
Photo from John Locher / Associated Press
A title fight in any combat sport is the result of years of hard work, dedication, training, and strategizing. Coaches, trainers and fighters all work together to bring the best game possible on fight night.
On July 5th, UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, although less experienced than challenger Lyoto Machida, a former Light Heavyweight title holder, seemed the better prepared. Not only did Weidman’s overall fight strategy prove superior and frustrating to Lyoto Machida, Weidman also managed to pull out techniques that we haven’t seen from him before.
Aside from a noticeable increase in striking techniques, particularly the leg kicks that Weidman unleashed early in the first round, a spectacular jumping front kick and a flying knee to the head, the champion completely dominated Lyoto in the clinch/ hand fighting range.
Unfortunately for the challenger, Lyoto decided to engage Chris in this range just as he started to gain some momentum in the fourth and fifth rounds. Strategically, this was a big mistake, and one his corner should have warned him about. The GIF below shows Weidman’s dominance in this range.
Wrestlers use this range to control their opponent’s wrists, elbows and head in order to set up a takedown. With a Division I Wrestling pedigree, Weidman clearly has an advantage in this range. Even in this short clip, we can see Weidman reaching the back of Lyoto’s head, while Lyoto never gets past Weidman’s hand. We can also see Weidman pushing and pulling on the challenger to set up a vicious elbow that rocks Lyoto as well as a crushing knee to the head. Note also how Weidman raises his left elbow to block an incoming punch from Lyoto, a move that also threatens to connect with the face of Lyoto. At one point where Lyoto seems to get in close to Weidman, Weidman uses both of his hands to push Lyoto’s head upwards and away, upsetting his balance and creating more openings for strikes. Weidman did eat a few punches in this range, but dealt a lot more damage than he received.
What an exciting fight. We saw Lyoto at his most aggressive and Weidman at his most diverse. The Fighting News congratulates both fighters and looks forward to seeing more of these expert technicians in the UFC and seeing Weidman and his camp getting the respect they have earned.