Over the last few months UFC’s Middleweight division has undergone some tremendous changes after being fairly static for years. For years it was Anderson Silva’s division and everyone else was just a minor player who would struggle and claw their way to the top just to get swatted back down by Anderson in dramatic fashion. Then something happened in July when Anderson Silva made a fatal mistake and found himself staring up at the lights as Chris Weidman celebrated with the title that no one thought Silva would ever lose slung around his waist.
When Chris Weidman made a repeat happen in December (odd circumstances aside) it was clear that the UFC Middleweight division landscape had dramatically changed. Chris Weidman has defeated Anderson Silva and taken the title but has yet to prove himself as an imposing Anderson-like figure, which means he’s still human and fallible. While Vitor Belfort might be getting the first shot at Chris Weidman and there is still a feeling that Weidman will make short work of Belfort, there is still an overwhelming feeling about the division that it will no longer be a one-man show, but the tale of many talented fighters.
The best example of this UFC Middleweight renaissance is this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 36 that featured two very important Middleweight bouts, seeing both Ronaldo “Jacare” Souze and Lyoto Machida emerging as possible contenders in the near future. Both men looked impressive, as did Gegard Mousasi in his fight with Lyoto Machida, proving that there is some serious depth in the Middleweight division without Anderson Silva on top. You could make a serious case for either Jacare of Machida deserving the next shot at Chris Weidman right now and no one would second guess that.
This almost feels new and fresh considering how closed off the UFC Middleweight division has been over the past few years. Out of all of Anderson Silva’s title defenses very few of them felt “dangerous” to him, while if you compared Lyoto Machida or Jacare Souza to Chris Weidman (or better yet, Vitor Belfort) you can easily see how either man could pose a very serious threat to Chris Weidman’s title reign. That is exciting. That is new. That is the UFC Middleweight division right now.