Knockout by Baldwin's Chris Weidman turns MMA world upside down
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Fortunes change every second in Las Vegas. From the spinning of a wheel to the rolling of the dice to the turning of a card.
In the case of Baldwin's Chris Weidman on Saturday night at UFC 162, what changed his life completely was the punching of a face.
Weidman launched his left hand at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, the greatest mixed martial artist the world has ever known. The impact to Silva's jaw caused him to fall to the floor. Several punches and seconds later at 1:18 of the second round, Weidman stomped around the octagon inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, this moment belonging entirely to him and his athletic accomplishment.
No one had ever beaten Silva in the UFC, a run of nearly seven years. No one had ever knocked out Silva in any MMA fight.
While the impact of that punch was clear to nearly 13,000 fans there and millions watching elsewhere, Weidman had trouble comprehending what he had just done, using words such as "far-fetched" and "surreal."
But it was Weidman (10-0, 6-0 UFC) who all through the buildup for his title shot had spoken confidently and positively about his ability to end Silva's incredible dominance.
Silva (33-5) was criticized for his in-cage antics, with the dropping of his hands and talking, at one point yelling to the All-American wrestler from Hofstra to "stand up, c'mon, man."
Silva always plays mind games with his opponents. That's his style. Weidman had prepared mentally for such a tactic from Silva. But in the actual moment of a fight . . .
"It got to the point where he was putting his hands down and kept talking," Weidman said. "I'm like, 'You know what, I just want to punch this guy in the face right now.' "
So he did, turning the MMA world on its ear.
"I tried to induce Chris to play my game, and that didn't work tonight," Silva said.
Weidman earned $24,000 in show money, plus another $24,000 in win money and a $50,000 bonus for knockout of the night. Silva earned $600,000 for the fight, according to the prize money reported by the UFC to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Those figures do not include any sponsor money, percentage of pay-per-view buys (if any) or discretionary bonuses the UFC often pays to fighters for performances.
UFC 162 did more to elevate Weidman's profile than it did to increase his bank account's average daily balance for July. This was his first time headlining a pay-per-view fight, the first time he had the spotlight -- and UFC marketing machine -- aimed directly at him. Such exposure -- and during UFC's International Fight Week -- can only boost his promotional power and marketability.
He added more than 25,000 new Twitter followers in the hours after knocking out the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
Weidman, 29, breathed life into the middleweight division, a weight class ruled by Silva since 2006. Silva will be offered an immediate rematch, UFC president Dana White said. When and where is to be determined, although Silva didn't seem interested in a rematch after the fight.
"He's said a lot of things," White said. "I think he likes to throw people off. I believe there's nothing more that he wants than a rematch. If it happens, it'll be the biggest fight in UFC history. It'll be crazy."
And in the meantime?
"It's crazy, man," Weidman said. "I would think that at this point, I'd be able to sit back and relax. Instantly, I'm already like, I'm freaking hungry. I gotta get better. I feel like I still didn't look at my best.''