Chris Weidman kept his UFC middleweight title after long-reigning former middleweight champion Anderson Silva apparently broke his left leg on a kick in the second round, ending UFC 168 with a horrific injury on Saturday night.
Weidman (11-0) quietly celebrated his victory while medical personnel tended to Silva (33-6), whose left shin bent grotesquely while landing a kick on Weidman’s left leg 1 minute, 16 seconds into the round.
Weidman, who earned his belt with an upset victory over Silva in July, also dominated the first round of the rematch.
“I did work on checking kicks,” Weidman said. “I figured if I [caught] him on my knee, it could really hurt him. Crazy how this happened.”
Ronda Rousey retained her bantamweight title in the UFC’s year-end event, submitting Miesha Tate with a third-round arm bar. Rousey then walked away from her bitter rival’s offer of a post-fight handshake, earning ferocious boos from the MGM Grand Garden crowd.
Silva’s injury cast a pall over arguably the UFC’s biggest fight card of the year, reminding every fan of the rapidly growing sport of the brutality frequently at its core. Although the injury happened too quickly to be seen by most naked eyes in Las Vegas, thousands of fans cringed audibly when the replay was shown once on the arena’s big screens.
Silva left the octagon with a brace on his leg.
Weidman paid tribute to the injured ex-champion, calling him the greatest fighter in the sport’s history.
Silva’s nearly seven-year reign atop the middleweight division ended nearly six months ago, when Weidman stopped the champion with a left hook at UFC 162.
Thousands of Brazilian fans — including retired soccer star Ronaldo — chanted, sang and waved flags for Silva and several Brazilian undercard fighters, creating a semblance of the huge home-cage advantage enjoyed by their fighters back home.
Before the unsettling main event, Rousey (8-0) got the biggest test of her ascendant career.
Rousey had never seen the second round of a mixed martial arts fight after seven straight first-round wins, but Tate tested the champion with striking and tenacity. Although Rousey repeatedly tossed Tate (13-5) to the canvas and pounded on her, Rousey could not finish until getting a weary opponent into her patented arm bar — the submission move she has used to end each of her eight professional fights.