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Chris Weidman retains belt following gruesome injury to Anderson Silva

LAS VEGAS — In my last column, I wrote about the first meeting between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman as being one of the most memorable fights in the history of the UFC.

During that hot July night in Las Vegas, the hype leading up to UFC 162 seemed to transcended the sport of mixed martial arts as almost every major news outlet from around the world shined a spotlight on the main event.

In one of the most talked about finishes in recent memory, Weidman shocked the world and not only won the belt from the greatest fighter the world has ever known, but did it with a powerful left hook that turned the former champion’s lights out.

It was a moment no fight fan will ever forget.

But if that night was one the crown jewel of what has been labeled the greatest year in UFC history, then Saturday’s main event will go down as one of the darkest days in company history.

With a record number of Pay-Per-View buys and a ticket sales, even more media coverage swarmed around the MGM Grand Garden Arena in order to allow fans to witness the highly anticipated rematch in UFC 168.

With Silva entering the octagon first, something he has not done since his first title fight with Rich Franklin back in 2006, he had the look of a man seeking vengeance from his previous defeat. A focused and motivated Anderson Silva is a force to be reckoned with, and everyone in the arena knew it as the Brazilian superstar slowly made his way to the cage as cheers echoed throughout the arena in a sea of camera flashes.

While Weidman entered to a mix of boos and cheers, he did not seem fazed, as his gaze remained locked onto the octagon and the dangerous striking awaiting him inside.

The first round began with a short feeling-out process before Weidman looked to secure the early takedown. Utilizing the cage for support, Silva stuffed the takedown and landed what looked like some powerful knees to Weidman’s body.

After withstanding the knees to his abdomen, the champion finally took the fight to the canvas and dropped Silva with a powerful combination. Sensing blood, Weidman leaped onto his downed opponent and began to rain vicious blows onto Silva’s skull. It looked like déjà vu as Silva looked to be on the verge of defeat.

But showing the true heart of a champion, Silva somehow managed to withstand the barrage of strikes and nullify the rest of Weidman’s top game for the rest of the round.

“I thought I was close to finishing him in the first round,” said Weidman. “He hit me with a couple good shots, but they didn’t hurt. I could’ve eaten those all day. It didn’t matter what he did tonight. Hands up or hands down, I was ready for him.”

The second round began another short feeling-out process, until Silva threw one of his signature left leg kicks. But, Weidman checked the kick and what ensued after will be talked about for decades to come, as it has already been labeled the most shocking finish to happen inside a UFC octagon.

Silva suddenly crumpled to the ground and let loose a scream that will haunt those in attendance for the rest of their lives.

Replays showed his shinbone had completely snapped half after connecting with Weidman’s shin. Similar to Joe Thesiman’s and Kevin Ware’s gruesome injuries, Silva’s leg looked as if it was made of rubber as it bent in a direction that human limbs were not meant to bend.

Referee Herb Dean quickly called a stop to the action, declaring Weidman the winner via second round TKO.

The crowd gasped as it witnessed what was transpiring inside the cage, and Weidman motioned for Silva’s team to hurry to his aid as doctors tried to help a screaming Silva.

While Weidman did say he had specifically prepared for Silva’s leg kicks, he took no joy in seeing his opponent suffer such a debilitating injury.

“No matter what happened in this fight, he’s still the greatest of all time. I wish him the best, and God bless him,” said Weidman. “That was the number one thing I got hit with the first fight. I worked a lot with guys with kicks. But it’s still crazy how that happened. There was a point I was just thinking, ‘Ref, stop the fight.’ His eyes were in the back of his head for a lot of those punches.”

Following the fight, UFC President Dana White met with the media and revealed the future of his former champion was up in the air as he would have to undergo immediate surgery.

“He could come back, obviously, or it could be the end. We’ll have to see. He’s going into surgery right this second,” said White.

With the eerie scene behind him, Weidman was finally able to enjoy his victory, but claimed he believes he still won’t get the credit he deserves following his back-to-back title victories.

“I think people haven’t connected with me quite yet because I’m still young in this sport,” said Weidman. “I’m so new in this sport. I’m 11-0 now and people can’t fathom the fact I came in and beat Anderson Silva. I can understand where people are coming from but slowly and surely people will believe in me.”