Former UFC champion and New York native #ChrisWeidman hopes to end his rough two-fight losing skid as he takes on Dutch mixed martial arts veteran #GegardMousasi. While "The Dreamcatcher" has been uncharacteristically chatty leading up to Saturday's fight, the former DREAM and #Strikeforce champ will look to extend his winning streak to five in a row with a victory over Weidman.
Although a title shot isn't guaranteed with a win at UFC 210, this match-up has big implications for the future of the middleweight division. Both men have proven themselves worthy of their top 5 status over the years, so fans should expect an action-packed co-main event on Saturday.
Before these middleweight stars throw down, let's take a look at Chris Weidman's and Gegard Mousasi's defining moments in MMA.
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva II
Prior to his ascension to the middleweight crown, Weidman was widely considered one of the division's most feared contenders, amassing an undefeated 9-0 record with impressive victories over the likes of Mark Muñoz, Tom Lawlor, and Demian Maia. While very few people gave him a chance against then champ Anderson Silva at UFC 162, the Ray Longo and Matt Serra product wound up proving everyone wrong with his unexpected second round KO of the G.O.A.T.
Unfortunately, what should've been the greatest moment of Weidman's career was shrouded in doubt. Many fans and pundits questioned the validity of his shiny new title, as they believed it was Silva's showboating in the Octagon that ultimately led to his demise. However, there would be no questions following their rematch at UFC 168.
Unlike their first battle, Weidman manhandled Silva in the opening frame, using his striking and superior wrestling to keep the Spider at bay. Weidman also dropped Silva early in the first round with a vicious right hook in the clinch that nearly ended the former champ's night. The Brazilian superstar somehow weathered the storm, but like their last encounter, it would all come down to the second round.
Just over a minute into the second frame, Silva would throw a leg kick that he would quickly regret, as his left fibula and tibia snapped as soon as Weidman checked the attack with his knee. It was a gruesome scene, with Silva on the canvas screaming in pain while holding his broken leg. Although it was a horrific way to end a fight, it was a defining moment nonetheless for Weidman.
Unlike their previous encounter, cockiness was not a factor in the outcome of UFC 168. The only one responsible for Weidman's win was Weidman and he deserves all the credit for slaying the MMA legend and ushering in a new era for the middleweight division. Sure, it wasn't pretty, but it was extremely effective and no one else has been able to dominate the Spider in such a fashion since.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Ronaldo Souza
Saturday night will be the 50th professional MMA fight for Mousasi, so it's safe to say that the Dutch star has a lot of great moments under his belt. While he's faced everyone from Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort to Mark Hunt and King Mo, Mousasi's best moment inside a cage came at DREAM 6 during his first match against Ronaldo Souza.
The pair of powerful middleweights hoped to make a statement while vying for the inaugural DREAM 185 lb. title during their clash at the 2008 Grand Prix Finale. At the time, Mousasi was already an established vet with wins over the likes of Melvin Manhoef, Hector Lombard, and Denis Kang. Jacare, still an up-and-coming prospect in the sport, was a dangerous fight for Mousasi thanks to his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu credentials.
Souza's grappling proved to be a difference maker early on, as the Brazilian easily took Mousasi down in the opening frame. Jacare pretty much controlled from the top position, stifling any attempt at bringing things to back to the feet. However, Mousasi's patience ended up paying off, as he capitalized on his opponent's eventual error.
During a brief exchange where Souza decided to stand up in order to land harder ground and pound strikes, Mousasi was able to land the perfect upkick, ending Jacare's night with a heel straight to his jaw. The swift and unexpected KO was a defining moment for Mousasi, as it gave him a highlight reel win over a rising star as well as the coveted DREAM middleweight title.
It will be interesting to see if Weidman and Mousasi put on another career defining performance at UFC 210.