On a night with three title fights, one of the most talked-about stories was the misfortune of Chris Weidman.
In the second main card bout of UFC 261 in April, Weidman saw his fight with Uriah Hall end in just 17 seconds when Weidman broke his leg after Hall checked a low kick, the one and only strike of their match. It was a shocking injury, one that Weidman is only beginning to recover from after undergoing two surgeries on his leg.
Weidman was a guest on The MMA Hour on Wednesday and was asked for his thoughts on Zhang Weili saying in a documentary that a brief backstage interaction with Weidman led to her being particularly affected by the dramatic injury, which happened just before her fight with Rose Namajunas.
“I touched gloves with [Weidman] when he left for the fight, and I said, ‘Good luck,’” Zhang told the South China Morning Post (h/t Bloody Elbow). “I saw his leg snapped like that … I felt like my mind wasn’t completely focused on the match. I wasn’t as focused. You can’t lose focus for even 0.01 seconds. No, no. It’s that cruel.”
Namajunas subsequently knocked Zhang out with a first-round head kick to reclaim the UFC strawweight title. While Weidman doesn’t agree that what happened to him was the main reason Zhang lost, he understand that it could have potentially thrown her off.
“Yeah, I gave her the bad juju,” Weidman said with a laugh. “I remember hanging out with her in the locker room and you know you’ve got to give people good energy and good vibes, I remember her giving the fist pound right before I went out and yeah, I mean listen that was a super traumatic moment for me and I think anybody who watched, people in the stands and stuff, people want to compare with Conor McGregor [at UFC 264]. His was kind of over time, it slowly happened and he stepped back and it broke. Mine was, we weren’t even sweating yet, there was no adrenaline going, I was fresh. It was the first strike of the fight, full force, everything I have, and it was traumatic I think for everybody to see it.
“Listen, I think it would probably mess with anybody a little bit, but that being said, you don’t want to make excuses like that. I’m sure Rose—I’m friends with Rose, I love Rose—I’m sure she was upset when she saw me do that, but you’ve got to get right back to getting in your own head and being ready for your own fight.”
Unlike McGregor’s leg injury at UFC 264 and Anderson Silva’s infamous leg break in his rematch with Weidman at UFC 168, Weidman’s fight with Hall was not the main event. That means there was plenty of time afterward for fighters and fans to ruminate on the gruesome incident.
Given the circumstances, Weidman believes there’s almost no way that Zhang wouldn’t be shaken by how his fight ended.
“Completely understandable, and I’m sure she’s being asked questions on why, and she’s just trying to figure out reasons on why she lost,” Weidman said. “A hundred percent that’s something that was in her head and something that she thought about. It wasn’t positive. You want positive vibes, you’re walking out, there’s a lot of negative thoughts you’re trying to deal with. To have to deal with something like that definitely sucks.
“It’s not like she’s lying saying that rattled her. I believe her 100 percent.”