Chris Weidman Addresses Eye Poke Controversy, Dismisses Retirement Talk

UFC
April 1, 2024
It wasn’t the cleanest of victories for Chris Weidman at UFC on ESPN 54, but given his struggles in recent years, the former middleweight champion will take a win any way he can get it.

Weidman defeated Bruno Silva technical decision in their middleweight clash at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday night. It was a bout filled with controversy due to multiple eye pokes, including two that occurred during what initially appeared to be the finishing sequence. After Weidman poked his opponent in both eyes, he connected with a glancing left hook, and Silva tumbled to the canvas. From there, Silva covered up in pain as “The All-American” unloaded with ground-and-pound to force the stoppage at the 2:18 mark of Round 3.

Upon further review, the fight was scored where the eye pokes occurred, and Weidman was instead awarded with a technical decision triumph. At the post-fight press conference (video via MMAjunkie.com), Weidman claimed that Silva needed to continue fighting after the fouls occurred.

“I’ll never question a guy if he says he gets poked in the eye, but you can’t just drop every time you feel like something is touching your eyeball,” Weidman said. “He poked me in the eye bad one time and I stood there, took it. Unless the ref’s going to say something, I don’t drop. I come from a wrestling background. It’s a similar thing. You can’t look to the ref, they’re not going to help you. Sometimes it’s going to go against you. You’ve got to be always ready. Ready to defend yourself at all times. He dropped again. I don’t know.

“Was he looking for a way out? I don’t know, but you can’t just turn your back and fall to the ground every time your eyeball feels poked.”

While Weidman admitted that the eye pokes were unintentional, Silva told MMAFighting.com that he plans to file an appeal in an attempt to have the loss overturned to a no contest.

“Chris Weidman acted in bad faith,” Silva said. “It’s said [by the referee] at the locker room that you can’t fight with your fingers pointing straight, it should be either up or with your hands closed. He spent the entire fight with his fingers pointing at my face, and still celebrated as if he had knocked me out.”

Regardless of whether that appeal is granted, Weidman was happy enough with his performance — all three judges had it 30-27 in his favor — that he plans to keep moving forward with his UFC career. That wasn’t a given heading into this fight for Weidman, who suffered a badly broken leg in April 2021 and has battled other injuries in recent years. Had he lost to Silva, the Serra-Longo Fight Team product might have been ready to call it a career.

“I’ve considered it plenty of times,” Weidman said. “I think if I would’ve lost tonight, if I would’ve not gotten my hand raised, it could’ve been the last time. I had that in my mind. If I was in there and I was just, ‘I don’t have it anymore,’ I may have out the gloves down, but it didn’t happen, and I got the win, so here I am.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Chris-Weidman-Addresses-Eye-Poke-Controversy-Dismisses-Retirement-Talk-193152

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