Was Weidman’s defense ‘dirty technique’?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As Anderson Silva threw his leg kick at Chris Weidman, the champion put a slight bend in his knee, lifted it slightlly, and turned it in to ‘check’ the kick. The technique made Silva’s lower shin meet with Weidman’s upper shin just below his knee, which of course was disastrous for Silva:

Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman

Of course the technique earned Weidman the victory and defense of his UFC middleweight title, but should we consider this a dirty technique? BloodyElbow’s Connor Ruebusch weighed in on the subject in his latest piece:

However, some have now come forward decrying Chris Weidman’s too-successful kick check “dirty.”

That’s not understandable, and it’s not okay.

Notably, Dave Walsh of Middle Easy and Liver Kickk had this to say on his site mmanuts.com:

Chris Weidman drilled it all of the time and used it in training! He knew exactly what he was doing, so therefore it wasn’t a fluke injury, it was… Well, this is where things get kind of messy, right? If Weidman’s trainer calls it the “Destruction” and talks about breaking guys legs with it, Chris Weidman using it and knowing the possible outcome is a bit reckless, especially considering the outcome of the fight.

He elaborates:

In case you didn’t catch what I was doing, that was not entirely serious. No, I don’t think that Chris Weidman intended to end Anderson Silva’s career or even break his leg. You know why? Because you can’t predict an injury like that, it is in its very nature a fluke injury and I’m going to explain why it was a fluke injury.

My issue with this statement is the use of the word “fluke.” Was the gruesome break that Silva suffered expected? Of course not. Weidman himself admitted that he felt bad for Silva when he realized the extent of the injury; he also said that his own training partners usually responded to the check by wincing and walking it off for a minute before resuming sparring.

I will grant that Anderson’s leg breaking was not a predictable outcome, but with a technique designed to damage the shins of the opponent, it cannot be called a fluke either. Nor can that technique be called dirty, any more so than a punch which is intended to render the opponent unconscious, or a submission which is meant to hyperextend his joints.

My personal analysis? This is one of the pitfalls of being such a defensive genius that you can go on fighting late into your career. Anderson’s brain is likely still in very good shape compared to his compatriots (such as poor, roadworn Chris Leben, who began fighting at around the same time), but his bones are not what they once were. This is what happens when a 38 year-old shin meets one ten years its junior. Unfortunately, this also means that Anderson will likely have to spend much more time in recovery than a younger fighter.

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