Chris Weidman is officially back.
The former UFC middleweight champion participated in his first competition since suffering a gruesome broken leg in his previous fight at UFC 261 in April 2021. Weidman ultimately lost a decision to Owen Livesey in a special attraction grappling match at Polaris 23, but he said just getting back on the mats was far more important that the outcome.
“These last two years have been the hardest years of my life,” Weidman said after the match. “I don’t want to cry, I’m not going to cry, but I don’t know if you know this, but I snapped my leg in half in April 2021, and I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to compete again in anything, and so to able to come out here and put a show for you guys, win or lose, is truly a dream.
“I want to thank all my supporters, anybody who had my back, said prayers for me, throughout this time off because I really felt that support. And all you haters that just think I suck and think I should retire, thanks for the motivation. Cause I’m going to prove you guys wrong when I get to a UFC fight.”
Weidman gets a takedown! #Polaris23 is LIVE NOW on #UFCFIGHTPASS pic.twitter.com/58fiFxV6uI— UFC FIGHT PASS (@UFCFightPass) March 11, 2023
As far as the match goes, Weidman was locked in a battle of takedowns as he and Livesey constantly jockeyed for position on the feet. Livesey managed several trips and judo throws to put Weidman down on the canvas, which was really the difference in the scoring.
Afterward, Weidman said he probably underestimated Livesey, especially where power was concerned, as the former Commonwealth games gold medalist in judo gave him everything he could handle.
“He’s got some good throws, that is for sure,” Weidman said. :I underestimated him for sure. I love upper body and his confidence level there was through the roof. I really didn’t expect that. He’s a solid dude, very strong. Extremely strong.
“My goal was to get him tired in the first five minutes, try to wear on him, get top position and look for the [submission] but unfortunately that did not happen at all.”
While the result didn’t go his way, Weidman was mostly happy with his showing after spending nearly two years on the shelf recovering and rehabilitating the broken leg.
By all accounts, Weidman looked strong and capable on his feet, especially considering the sheer amount of power it took to go toe-to-toe with a powerhouse like Livesey during the match.
Livesey gets the crowd PUMPED with another throw! #Polaris23 is LIVE NOW on #UFCFIGHTPASS pic.twitter.com/LQJsxIpmq8— UFC FIGHT PASS (@UFCFightPass) March 11, 2023
“Even though I didn’t get my hand raised, this was a great experience,” Weidman said. “Obviously my main goal is to get back to UFC and get that strap back and this was a great way to get the ring rust off before I do that.
“I can tell you that fighting might be a little more nerve racking but it’s not that much more nerve racking just because you want to do your best in here. So the nerves, the fight week, it’s very similar to this so it was a great way to jump into a fight, getting this under my belt and going against a guy like him. There’s nobody in the UFC that’s going to be stronger than Owen Livesey.”
With the grappling match completed, Weidman will move toward his bigger goal with a UFC return, though his next fight hasn’t been booked just yet.