Chris Weidman lost his middleweight title to Luke Rockhold by...

Chris Weidman lost his middleweight title to Luke Rockhold by fourth-round TKO at UFC 194 in Las Vegas on Dec. 12, 2015. Credit: Newsday/Jeffrey Basinger

Taped to the refrigerator in Chris Weidman’s hotel room this week was a photo of Luke Rockhold, the middleweight champion’s opponent at UFC 194 on Saturday night.

The message, written in gold marker over the image of Rockhold, read “I, Chris Weidman will defeat Luke Rockhold on December 12th and retain my title of still being the UFC MW champion of the World!”

December 12th was Saturday night, and inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Weidman came up short in fulfilling the promise he made to himself.

Weidman lost to Rockhold by TKO from strikes at the 3:12 mark of the fourth round. It was the first career loss for Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC).

“It was Luke’s night, At the end of the day, I’m going home and I’ve got a beautiful family who loves me,” Weidman said.

After the fight, Weidman was transported to a nearby hospital.

Rockhold (15-2, 5-1) dominated much of the fight and really found his rhythm in the second round with his left leg kicks. In the third round, he had top mount and pounded on Weidman with punches for more than a minute, Weidman covered up on a lot of the punches but many of them still made it through. Referee Herb Dean was close to stopping the right there, but he didn’t.

“I was hoping he would have,” Rockhold said. “I sucked it up and had to go another round.”

That onslaught in the third round came about because of a heel kick Weidman attempted. It didn’t land and Rockhold was able to catch Weidman’s leg and take him down.

“I can’t even believe this is real right now,” Rockhold said.

It was the first time Weidman, a four-time All-American in college, had been taken down in his UFC career.

“I remember throwing it, and he caught it,” Weidman said. “It wasn’t the smartest move.

Weidman’s reign as champion lasted more than two years. He won the title in July 2013 when he knocked out Anderson Silva, considered the greatest MMA fighter of all time. In the rematch six months later, Weidman won by TKO when he checked a kick from Silva that broke his leg in two places.

Weidman then beat Machida by unanimous decision in a five-round slugfest at UFC 175 in July 2014. Last May, he stopped Vitor Belfort in the first round at UFC 187.

Rockhold trains with light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez at AKA in San Jose, California. He came into the fight having won four in a row all by either knockout or submission within the first two rounds. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion last beat Lyoto Machida via a second-round submission, a comparative fact to Weidman’s five-round decision of Machida that Rockhold mentioned multiple times this week.

“I knew if I got on top control,” Rockhold said, “I’m operating on a different level than anybody.”

After the fight, Weidman was transported to a nearby hospital.

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