Chris Weidman, the Fall of the Brazilian Old School, and Jacaré’s National Responsibility

Fightland Blog

By Fightland Staff

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Ask Chris “The All-American” this question one thousand times and he’ll tell you every single time he’s got zero beef with Brazil or the fighters Latin America’s largest nation and cradle of mixed martial arts produces—despite having made a name for himself dismantling the country’s elite of the sport. For the sake of argument we’ll stick to the middleweight division, that murderer’s row that once upon a time belonged to Brazil. Of that old Brazilian school of hard knocks—Silva, Machida, Belfort—none remain anywhere near title contention.

Chris Weidman tossed out any hopes for Brazil to capture a middleweight title any time soon. That is, of course, Jacaré gets the shot before Luke Rockhold and shows how his evolution from pure jiu jitsu prowess to well-rounded mixed martial artist can stand against Weidman’s seemingly unbeatable formula.

Chris Weidman pulled apart Brazil’s supremacy in the sport—at least in the middleweight division--by dispatching Anderson Silva into the proverbial oblivion—all news surrounding Spider nowadays tend to border on the bizarre and comical—defending his belt versus Lyoto Machida and most recently, making Vitor Belfort look like he’d forgotten how to roll, like a rookie who took too big a bite right away.

At the top of his game, Weidman looks like he gets better with every time he steps into the Octagon. His growing brand of fighting is extremely modern inasmuch as its growth is organic in all areas necessary to construct a powerful MMA persona while still maintaining and improving a superbly strong base in his original style—wrestling. As such, every day that passes makes Chris Weidman more difficult to beat.

Brazil’s MMA old school didn’t know how to keep up, and one by one they fell to an opponent whose riddle they could not solve. In 2013, Silva aged 38, last weekend, Vitor aged 38, and Lyoto Machida, somewhat younger but with a lot of playtime, felt the strength and power of a kind of youth they were not used to. Chris Weidman is Vitor Belfort in the 90s. Chris Weidman is Silva in 2011. Chris Weidman is Lyoto Machida when he had the strap.

Anderson Silva met in Chris Weidman a fighter whose head he could not hack like he did virtually all of his previous opponents. Despite backing his talk with his fighting, Anderson’s game was largely constituted of playing mind games. Weidman shrugged those off and knocked Silva out in a way fans thought they’d never see. Weidman’s got above-average fight IQ and showed himself the better fighter the first time around. For whatever reason—all valid—Weidman failed to win the hearts of fans. They questioned his win and attributed it to Anderson being a clown, not to Weidman’s ability and performance. The second time around they attributed it to Silva’s bad luck and ensuing leg-snap. Before that happened, however, Weidman already had a knockdown in his favor and was leading in points.

Versus Lyoto Machida, he utilized his fortitude to concentrate on the battle, and not on mind games. Lyoto is not one to engage in that fanfare. It was in that fight however that Chris Weidman showed imself a true, complete mixed martial artists. He went the distance, didn’t gas out, got hit incredibly hard as anyone who’s been hit by the Dragon can attest, went to the floor, played on his feet—he did a bit of everything and kept the belt.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC

Last weekend, he showed the world how he works under pressure, demonstrating the most elite level of mental and physical strength and power. Vitor looked like a child in there, sadly, but not before giving fans some of the old school Vitor everyone loves and, now, misses. He hit Weidman a few times, and hard—enough to momentarily make the fight look like it could go his way. He made Weidman bleed. But Weidman took a step back, reassessed and simply took control. Weidman easily took him to the floor, making Vitor look as though he’d never trained jiu jitsu or any floor strategy for that matter. Vitor was a deer in headlights, like he’d forgotten every step of the way that took him to “Being Vitor Belfort.” It just didn’t look like a fair fight, despite on paper it looking like a fight made in heaven.

Despite not retiring yet, Vitor’s latter career is stained by the phantom of TRT and his inability to deliver in aspect of MMA that made Vitor who he was.

Confidence was always one of Chris Weidman’s principal qualities, even before defeating Anderson Silva the first time around. But now, after having taken down the three remaining kings of the Brazilian old school, the American wrestler has found confidence to challenge, perhaps, his most salient opponent: the ubiquitous hater. He called out in his post-fight interview to stop doubting him, to join the team now while there is still time.

For Weidman, and for American dominance in the sport, the future is bright. For Brazil, a dark sky looms with very little chance of sun. That little chance, however, lies in Jacaré, whom Dana White said will most likely get the title shot next. The middleweight division, one of the UFC’s most stacked, will continue in the hands of Americans unless Jacaré can buy some time for Brazil. But if anyone can defeat Weidman, it’s Jacaré, who arguably has the best jiu jitsu in all of the UFC. He also has one weapon others haven’t had before: respect and awareness of the truth behind Chris Weidman’s claim to the title. With that in mind, he doesn’t think anyone in the world can last on the ground with him.

He told Portal do Vale Tudo,

“I'm here to take the belt of this great champion who is Chris Weidman. Anyone can fight me on the ground, but sooner or later, they'll pay for it."

Go forth Jacaré, or let the flame of Brazilian middleweight greatness go off for the coming winter in the birthplace of MMA. 


Check out these related stories:

A Win over Belfort Will Make Chris Weidman the Face of UFC

Jack Slack: Why Chris Weidman Is the New Breed of Martial Artist

Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman: Negotiating the Ghost of Anderson Silva