A New York native, Weidman defeated Gastelum via third-round submission in front of a raucous Long Island crowd at UFC on FOX 25 to snap a three-fight losing streak and reestablish himself as a top contender in the middleweight division. But Weidman had to fight through adversity to do so — he was briefly dropped by a Gastelum left hand in the closing seconds of the first round — and that’s where award-winning MMA Fighting photographer Esther Lin captured one of the most insane “punchface” photos you’ll ever see.
“I saw that picture, I was like, ‘wow.’ My face got put into like seven different directions at one time,” Weidman said Monday on The MMA Hour, “so it was like a rippling effect going on, and I’m the ugliest human being ever in that picture, so I was like, ‘this is an interesting thing, I’ve got to put this up.’ I’ve got no shame. It’s part of the game, you’ve got to get punched sometimes.”
This fight game ain't for everybody. But I love it! pic.twitter.com/9PZf4po6lX— Chris Weidman (@ChrisWeidmanUFC) July 23, 2017
Weidman ended up posting a close-up of the photo on his own Twitter account after the fight, poking fun at himself for a bad moment that went viral.
Weidman also was nothing but complimentary to his foe following a successful weekend that saw him persevere to finish Gastelum with a arm-triangle choke. In post-fight interviews and social media posts, Weidman laid praise upon the 25-year-old Gastelum as “the future of the UFC”. Weidman also said he wasn’t surprised that Gastelum carried the kind of power that could distort his face to such grotesque levels.
“Look at his career, look at what he’s done to some really good fighters,” Weidman said. “Tim Kennedy is freaking really good, Vitor Belfort is really good. He stood up there and he KO’d these guys and knocked these guys out from his feet. He covers distance really well, he’s quick, he’s confident, he’s not afraid to get hit, he stays in the pocket, so no, I was prepared. I was prepared for all of that.”
The fight marked the first UFC defeat for Gastelum at 185 pounds, and from the outset it was clear that Weidman had a significant size advantage over the former welterweight. Afterward, Gastelum expressed a desire to return back to 170 pounds, a division where he has found great success in the UFC but has also repeatedly struggled to make weight.
And while Weidman sees pros and cons to both divisions for the young contender, he believes Gastelum will flourish no matter where he ends up.
“I think there’s benefits for him to be at 185 and there’s benefits for him to be at welterweight,” Weidman said. “It’s really up to him. I’m not going to advise him to do anything. He’s competitive at any weight class he wants to go.”