This year's endless parade of injuries found itself another high-profile target this past weekend, as middleweight champion Chris Weidman withdrew from his UFC 184 title defense against Vitor Belfort less than a month out from fight night, marking the third time that same match-up failed to come to fruition. The culprit this time around was a fluke injury Weidman sustained during wrestling practice that left him with fractured cartilage in his ribs and effectively unable to move.
A disappointed and frustrated Weidman appeared on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour to elaborate on the injury, revealing that UFC doctors made the call to remove him from the fight and that a six-to-eight week recovery timetable with a return date in either April or May is his most realistic option. Weidman said that he almost felt like he was "paralyzed" when the injury first occurred hitting a switch that he's hit "about one-million times in my life" at his alma matter Hofstra University, and expressed deep remorse to fans who felt burned by the bout's third cancellation.
But the same can't be said about Weidman's feelings towards Belfort after the Brazilian released a stinging statement Sunday explaining why he refused to fight Lyoto Machida for an interim title and casting stones at Weidman's injuries.
"I went from feeling bad for him to pissed off at him," Weidman said. "I'm just like, are you kidding me?
"First of all, Vitor, he failed a drug test. That's his second drug test that he failed. Usually he'd be out for at least a year, but I think they tested him when there was no bout agreement, so they couldn't really punish him the way they wanted to. He wasn't licensed. So the guy's lucky as anything that he's not in trouble. I mean, he's a two-time convicted juicehead at this point and he's not realizing that. I understand that he hasn't fought in a long time, but that's his fault. I fought. I fought in July. That's six months ago, against Machida.
"This [injury] is just unfortunate," Weidman added. "But for him to be complaining, for a guy who's failing drug tests and shouldn't even be able to fight until this February, because he failed a test last February or March, is just crazy to me."
Belfort's PED troubles were indeed the reason his initial May 2014 meeting with Weidman fell apart, counter to what Belfort claimed in his recent statement. Belfort tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a Feb. 2014 random pre-fight drug test, then, rather infamously, refused to release the results until effectively being forced to do so long afterwards when applying for a license to fight in the state of Nevada.
Belfort's current status on UFC 184's card is still undetermined, though after turning down the Machida fight, Belfort reportedly countered with an offer to fight No. 13 ranked Mark Munoz, which the UFC understandably balked at. The entire situation, in general, has been rough for Weidman to watch from sidelines, and the champ admits that he got "depressed" for a few days after his injury dropout was made official.
"I'm kinda coming out of it now, but it's just really tough for me," Weidman admitted. "I just feel like, you know, I've fought through so many injuries. Every time I'm in a fight there's nagging injuries and stuff like that, but I've fought through some significant injuries that most guys would pull out for, and I was more than willing to do something like that for this fight if it was to come up, but this is just something I couldn't do.
"It just sucks because Vitor, I think, is a great match-up for me. I just heard you say that he wanted to fight Mark Munoz. This guy is a mental midget. I would go in there with anything and beat him. I just need to be able to move a little bit. So it just sucks where I'm at."
Weidman acknowledged that aside from Belfort's comments, the reaction he's received online from fans over the past few days has been particularly scathing; though in that respect, Weidman tries his best not to be affected by the endless swirl of negativity.
"Do you realize everything I've been through? Do you think any of that stuff gets to me? It doesn't really get to me," Weidman said. "I fought Anderson Silva twice. The things that people said after my first fight, after my second fight, are mindboggling to me as far as humanity and where people's minds can go, it's pretty crazy. But I did read some of it and it's basically me getting called a p-to-the-y a bunch of times, if you catch my drift without being vulgar.
"I'm getting called p-to-the-y, p-to-the-y. The thing is, people so easily forget. My last fight, I fought with a broken hand. A confirmed broken hand. I fought Alessio Sakara on two weeks' notice with a broken rib. Confirmed broken rib. My last fight with a broken hand, I wasn't able to spar or even hit pads three weeks before, or even in the locker room, I couldn't hit a pad without extreme sharp pain because of a broken hand. I took Demian Maia on 10 days notice and cut 32 pounds in 10 days. Almost died cutting the weight.
"Then I get an injury where I can hardly move, and I'm a p-to-the-y? So it's just funny how people... I could go from being the toughest guy in the world to being that word. It's just funny how people flip-flop and they forget so easily. After they see me fight again, after my next fight and I smoke Vitor, they'll calm down with those words for a while. But as soon as something bad happens again, they'll jump the other way."