Chris Weidman isn’t shying away from a potential worst-case scenario in his UFC comeback.
The former middleweight champion is scheduled to fight Brad Tavares in Boston at UFC 292 on Aug. 19, a date that marks Weidman’s return after breaking his leg in brutal fashion against Uriah Hall more than two years ago.
Weidman’s injury occurred at UFC 261 when Hall checked a kick 17 seconds into the fight, which caused Weidman’s leg to shatter and instantly ended the contest. Now, after undergoing a pair of surgeries and months upon months of rehab, “The All-American” isn’t just eager to test out his injured limb, he plans to do it as soon as the bell rings.
“The first thing I’m doing in that fight against Brad Tavares is throwing the hardest leg kick of my life, right on his shinbone,” Weidman said on The MMA Hour. “I do want to do that. It’s worth it, I think it’s important for you to face your fears. Anything you might be uncomfortable with, just go ahead and do it.”
“Yeah, that’s why I need to kick with it quick,” Weidman continued when asked about any lingering doubts. “Get it out of the system. I just hope Brad Tavares, I hope we’re on the same page. He’s not allowed to check the first leg kick. Just let it land, please. Then all is good after that, may the best man win.”
Weidman immediately underwent emergency surgery shortly after the April 2021 injury, which required a second surgery the following August. Through it all, Weidman has documented much of his journey of rehabilitation and recovery. This week, it was reported that Weidman’s return fight would be against Tavares.
It’s been so far, so good for Weidman in regards to any lingering pain or effects.
“I’m good to go,” Weidman said. “Obviously, a long recovery, lots of drama throughout the whole thing. A way longer layoff than I initially expected. It all happened for a reason, so here we are. Yeah, the pain and everything is good now. Kicking is no problem, being kicked is no problem, so I’m ready to go. I feel really healthy.”
In Tavares, Weidman faces a fellow veteran of the UFC middleweight division, one known more for his gritty 15-minute performances than his one-punch knockout power. That may be a boon for Weidman, who was knocked out in five of seven fights heading into his fight with Hall.
Though Weidman isn’t overlooking Tavares, he acknowledges that it’s a safer option for a return opponent than some of the others that could have happened.
“I think he brings enough danger for me to take it very serious,” Weidman said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him, so it excites me that I’m preparing really hard for this, but it’s also not the worst matchup in the world for me. It’s not like I’m coming back into a fight where I’ve got some killer in front of me.
“I think it’s important for me to work my way back up and do it smart, and I think Brad Tavares — no disrespect to him, he’s a good dude, a good fighter — I just think there could be worse matchups for me in the top 10, top 15. I think it’s a great matchup to come back to.”
No matter what Weidman says or how well he’s performed in the gym, all eyes will be on how his leg holds up when he makes that familiar walk to the octagon once more. He can certainly expect to see footage of the injury replayed ad nauseum, not that that’s anything new for him.
The only time Weidman was recently caught off guard rewatching the moment was when the team working on his upcoming documentary presented him with an angle he’d never seen before, one that captured his leg break in the most gruesome detail possible.
“The producers asked me, ‘Hey, are you OK with us showing your leg break and then maybe you talking through it?’” Weidman said. “I go, ‘Yeah,’ I kind of forced myself to watch that a bunch of times already a long, long time ago, I’m tagged in it every day. They put it on — and I’m used to seeing the same version of it, maybe there’s two different views — [but] they have a view of it that I’d never seen before. It is insane. Because I know my bones came out of my leg, but you don’t ever see it on camera.
“They actually have it to where you see the backside of my calf, where it wraps around the leg and two bones shoot out and blood and everything shoots out and then I fall back down. I did not ever see that. I didn’t think that angle ever existed. Then I’m watching Twitch live and I’m like, ‘What the hell? That’s crazy.’ It’s pretty nuts. I’m sure on the documentary they’ll have that too. You’ve never seen anything like that before.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before where you see the bones just pop right through the skin. I can’t believe what that looked like. I just can’t believe I’ve been through that, I’m coming back, and I feel as good as I am.”