Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown”: At UFC 162, Can Chris Weidman Avoid Being MMA’s Gerry Cooney?
By Joshua Molina
This Saturday the 9-0 Chris Weidman will challenge pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title at UFC 162.
All the buzz is around Weidman, the All-American college wrestler who is looking to take the crown from the Brazilian champ.
Some big names are pulling for Weidman. They believe he has the right combination of skill and style to upset Silva, 34-4.
Although not overtly, there’s an undercurrent of Americans vs. Brazilians fueling this big fight.
Some people really want the 29-year-old Weidman to win. Many of the fighters are behind him, and his fans believe he represents the best and only chance to beat the middleweight 38-year-old.
The UFC fight bears a lot of resemblance to another big fight with undertones. On Nov. 2, 31 years ago, a rising star named Gerry Cooney stepped into the ring to fight heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes.
Holmes at the time was considered pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. Cooney was undefeated, 25-0, and represented the best chance to defeat the unpopular Holmes.
Cooney was uplifted as “The Great White Hope,” who was going to become the first white heavyweight champion in decades. Holmes was cocky, brash and scary.
Prior to the fight at Caesar’s Palace, Cooney appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated under the headline of “The Contender.” He graced the pages of Time Magazine.
The media loved Cooney.
Many white boxing fans wanted and believed Cooney would win. Many black fans and fighters didn’t give Cooney a chance.
Guess what happened?
Holmes destroyed Cooney, beating him almost every round, before knocking him out in the 13th round.
It wasn’t pretty. Cooney almost didn’t make it out of the second round.
On paper, the fight was a mismatch.
Holmes was 39-0 when he walked into the ring. His jab was wicked. His right hand was explosive. He could knock you out or outbox you. Even when he was down, he was never out, bouncing back from early knockdowns to win fights.
Cooney had a good left hook, was tough and determined. But he was slow and didn’t have the footwork, agility or quickness to defeat Holmes.
On paper, Cooney was clearly outmatched. Still, the media and the public wanted to believe that Cooney could do it.
The hype ended as soon as the fight began.
Like Cooney, Weidman is walking into the cage with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Like Cooney, Weidman is supposed to be the guy who finally beats Silva, making his 11th title defense.
Good luck with that. History shows that’s a tough spot to be in.
Weidman, like Cooney, can’t stand on the hype during the fight. Once the bell rings, he will have to fight.
It’s skill, not buzz, that wins fights.