UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
MMA

UFC 175 Crash Course: Weidman vs. Machida

Chris Weidman will attempt to retain possession of the middleweight crown in his bout against Lyoto Machida. Photo:

Chris Weidman will attempt to retain possession of the middleweight crown in his bout against Lyoto Machida.

Everything you need to know about this weekend's biggest fight.

Overview

Chris Weidman's journey has been all uphill. Even after he reached the pinnacle of his sport, there was more climbing to do. Still is. The proving ground in mixed martial arts is a craggy, steep terrain with no resting spots, especially for this man.

When Weidman meets Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 175 on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET, PPV), it will be the New Yorker’s second defense of the middleweight championship he won almost a year earlier to the day. Yet he will walk into the cage in front of more than a few disbelieving eyes.

Last summer’s victory over the indomitable Anderson Silva was a shocker, even to many of those who already saw in Weidman the ingredients of a champion. The way the fight went down, with Anderson clowning a little too much and Weidman a bundle of dead-serious aggression, coming at Silva with firm-spirited punches until he landed the one that turned out the arena lights, punctuated the encounter with as many question marks as exclamation points. Even their December rematch, which ended suddenly and sickeningly when Silva shattered his left leg on a kick, allowed for doubts to cloud some minds. Never mind that both times Weidman had been the fighter in control from the moment the two were waved together and the crowd inhaled the immensity of the moment.

So now Weidman gets to prove himself. Again. Once and for all? Maybe.

The obstacle in his path, yet again, has a champion’s pedigree. Five years ago, Machida (21-4) reigned in the light heavyweight division and was thought of as not just unbeatable but untouchable. Until “The Dragon” was touched violently during a dethroning beatdown by Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Last fall the 36-year-old karate ace from Brazil moved to the 185-pound division, and on the strength of a pair of victories, he is No. 5 in the SI.com middleweight rankings.

Weidman, 30, is No. 1 in the weight class, of course, and No. 4 in the SI.com pound-for-pound tally. At 11-0, he’s on a run of three straight finishes, the last two against perhaps the greatest fighter the sport has seen. And yet he remains in pursuit of what eludes him.

In addition to the pay-per-view telecast of the five-fight main card, four prelims will be shown on Fox Sports 1, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and the card’s other two bouts will stream on the UFC Fight Pass digital subscription service (7 p.m. ET).

Background

After being dethroned at 205 pounds in May 2010, then dropping an uninspiring split decision to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson later that year, Machida scored a spectacular front-kick KO of Randy Couture that accomplished two things: It persuaded the then-47-year-old Couture to finally call it a career and the UFC to give “The Dragon” another shot at the belt. But while Machida did give Jon Jones a good fight for a round, he ended up succumbing to the sport’s pound-for-pound No. 1 like everyone else has.

Machida did bounce back with a couple of victories, but his February 2013 split decision over Dan Henderson was almost unanimously derided as a borefest. So was his fight five months later with Phil Davis, which ended up as a decision loss. Machida’s career needed rejuvenation.

He’s found it in the middleweight division. His debut at 185 was a second-round destruction of Mark Muñoz last October, and he followed that up in February with a less-thrilling but nonetheless clear victory over Gegard Mousasi. Machida was moving up in the weight class, and when Vitor Belfort dropped out of this weekend’s title fight -- on the same day in February when the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy -- Machida was given the shot at the golden ring.

Last five fights

Weidman

12/28/13 Anderson Silva W TKO 2

7/6/13 Anderson Silva W KO 2

7/11/12 Mark Muñoz W KO 2

1/28/12 Demian Maia W UD 3

11/19/11 Tom Lawlor W Tech. sub 1

Machida

2/15/14 Gegard Mousasi W UD 5

10/26/13 Mark Muñoz W KO 1

8/3/13 Phil Davis L UD 3

2/23/13 Dan Henderson W SD 3

8/4/12 Ryan Bader W KO 2

 
Tale of the Tape
Weidman
vs.
Machida
June 17, 1984
Birth Date
May 30, 1978
Baldwin, N.Y.
Birthplace
Salvador, Brazil
Garden City, N.Y.
Residence
Los Angeles, Calif.
11-0
Record
21-4
185*
Weight
185*
6'2"
Height
6'1"
78"
Reach
74"
*Official weights announced at the weigh-in (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)

Other numbers to count on

68.2:Takedown accuracy percentage of Weidman, fourth-best all time in the UFC, according to FightMetric statistics. Machida sits No. 9, at 63.6 percent, but he’ll have to contend with a champ who’s never once been wrestled to the mat.

12: Career knockdowns by Machida, fourth-most in UFC history.

11: More than half of Machida’s 21 victories have come by decision, whereas Weidman has finished more than 70 percent of his fights (five KOs, three submissions).

2: Number of fighters who have won UFC titles in two weight divisions (Randy Couture, B.J. Penn). Machida is aiming to become the third.

Greatest hits

Weidman becomes champion by beating the unbeatable

Machida is explosive in his middleweight debut

Matchup

Weidman is an aggressive fighter, just the type of opponent the counterstriking Machida craves. But the champ has shown himself to be intelligent in his assault, willing to wait for his opportunity, then go for it with gusto when the opening presents itself.

A Machida fight typically is fought at the Brazilian’s pace, which is to say a slow one. But the champ will be looking to ramp things up with attacks and feinted faux-attacks -- anything to force the reactionary Machida to react more than he feels comfortable doing. Machida might catch Weidman coming in, and that can be an instant game-changer, but he’d better be prepared to compete from his back -- where karate won’t help -- and find a way out from beneath the blanket. Otherwise, the beatdown will be brutally methodical.

For Weidman, the dance involves not standing in front of Machida yet encroaching on the challenger’s space in order to make him feel threatened.

The odds

Weidman is the betting favorite, with a money line of -190 (bet $100 to win $52.63). The line on Machida is +165 (bet $100 to win $165).

Prediction

Machida is elusive and lethal, and Weidman will need to use caution -- just as he did two times against the equally dangerous Silva. Patience and the smarts to follow a game plan eventually will pay off for the champ. He’ll find a way to get to Machida, and when he does he will prove to be the stronger and more potent fighter. Weidman by TKO.

Must-see photo

Photo:

Chris Weidman (right) bested the ever-dangerous Anderson Silva in two consecutive fights during 2013.

Fighting words

“I can beat him 100 percent.”

--Machida, speaking about Weidman on the AXS television show Inside MMA.

“I’m expecting a very confident Lyoto Machida, but I’m going to break his will.”

--Weidman, on the Great MMA Debate podcast

The Tweet beat

Join the conversation about Weidman vs. Machida on Twitter. Track the hashtags #WeidmanMachida and #UFC175 to see who’s tweeting what about Saturday’s fight.

@ChrisWeidmanUFC (Chris Weidman, champion)

@raylongomma (Ray Longo, Weidman’s head trainer)

@lyotomachidafw (Lyoto Machida, challenger)

@BlackHouseMMA (Black House, Machida’s training gym)

@ufc (Ultimate Fighting Championship)

@danawhite (UFC president Dana White)

@jeffwagenheim (SI.com’s Jeff Wagenheim)

@lorettahuntmma (SI.com’s Loretta Hunt)

@chuckmindenhall (Chuck Mindenhall, MMAfighting.com writer)

@arielhelwani (Ariel Helwani, Fox Sports 1/MMAfighting.com interviewer)

@LukeThomasMMA (Luke Thomas, MMAfighting.com writer)

@MikeChiappetta (Mike Chiappetta, FoxSports.com MMA writer)

@benfowlkesMMA (Ben Fowlkes, USA Today/MMAjunkie.com writer)

@kevini (Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports MMA/boxing writer)

@bokamotoESPN (Brett Okamoto, ESPN.com MMA writer)

@davedoylemma (Dave Doyle, MMAfighting.com writer)

@MMAjunkieJohn (John Morgan, USA Today/MMAjunkie.com writer)

The rest of the card

Ronda Rousey (champion) vs. Alexis Davis, women’s bantamweight

Stefan Struve vs. Matt Mitrione, heavyweight

Urijah Hall vs. Thiago Santos, middleweight

Marcus Brimage vs. Russell Doane, bantamweight

Preliminary card (8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1): Urijah Faber vs. Alex Caceres, bantamweight; Kenny Robertson vs. Ildemar Alcantara, welterweight; Chris Camozzi vs. Bruno Santos, middleweight; George Roop vs. Rob Font, bantamweight.

Online prelims (7 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass): Luke Zachrich vs. Guilherme Vasconcelos, middleweight; Kevin Casey vs. Bubba Bush, middleweight.

Programming notes

Mike Goldberg will handle blow-by-blow and Joe Rogan analysis for the main-card telecast on pay-per-view as well as prelims on Fox Sports 1 and the UFC Fight Pass. An hour-long postfight show begins at 1:30 a.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More MMA

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.