2013 couldn't have been a better year for Chris Weidman.
The undefeated middleweight champ handed Anderson Silva his first loss in the Ultimate Fighting Championship on July 6; a win many attribute to Silva's excessive showboating during their UFC 162 contest, despite a solid first round turned in by "The All-American."
Weidman followed that up with another impressive performance during their rematch, dominating the first round of their Dec. 28 UFC 168 title tilt with his top control. However, a freak injury robbed him of the opportunity to win decisively, and prove once-and-for-all that his UFC 162 victory was no fluke, when Silva broke his leg while throwing a low kick.
It was one of the worst injuries in UFC history, comparable only to an injury suffered by "The Ultimate Fighter" season five alumni Corey Hill during his 2008 bout against Dale Hartt. More importantly, the injury guarantees Weidman will never get the proper respect he deserves as the UFC's undisputed, undefeated champion, since we'll all have to use our imagination to figure out how the fight would have ended if Silva didn't break his leg.
Many Anderson fans were confident he would have eventually found a hole in Chris' defense, while Weidman's supporters felt he would have dominated the remaining rounds with his wrestling, much like the first.
That doesn't seem to bother Weidman much though. He's pleased with the way he performed during his two fights against the greatest fighter in UFC history, and he's come to terms with the fact he'll never get full credit from a fraction of MMA fans.
"I'm never going to win over the respect of certain people and I can tell you one thing," Weidman said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "After the first fight I felt like needed to prove even to myself that I'm better than him. He started showboating, even though he had done that before, when I knocked him out I surprised myself. But after both fights now, being in the past I can for sure tell you for sure I'm the better fighter. I'm completely comfortable knowing I won both fights."
Weidman isn't ready to call himself the greatest fighter in MMA history just yet though.
"I still think he [Silva] should be known as the greatest fighter of all time… because of everything he's accomplished," Weidman explained. "I have a lot to prove before I consider myself the greatest of all time. That is one of my longtime goals for myself, but I have a lot of guys to beat. Even if I beat the greatest of all time, it doesn't make me the greatest of all time. I'm only 11 fights in. I have a lot of work to do."
With his first successful title defense in the UFC's history books, Weidman is now set to take on the red-hot Vitor Belfort -- who is coming of vicious knockout victories against Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. Belfort lobbied for a soccer stadium venue in Brazil, but the bout will likely take place in Las Vegas sometime in May or June.
Weidman is a 2:1 favorite heading into his second title defense, and he isn't particularly worried about Vitor' momentum.
"I feel like I'm on another level than him," Weidman added. "I think it's a great fight for me. I think I can beat him no matter what he's done. It's more legit if I'm beating up a juicer, if that's what you want to consider him."