On December 29, 2013 Anderson Silva, one of the sports most legendary figures, was felled by a ghastly injury in the main event of UFC 168. The former champion, who lost his title to Chris Weidman months earlier, famously snapped his leg in the rematch when Weidman checked one of his kicks.
Improbably the same thing happened to Weidman, when he faced Uriah Hall at UFC 261 this April. Since suffering the injury, Weidman has been video blogging his recovery, sharing updates from hospital, home and even the gym.
On the debut episode of his new show Won’t Back Down Weidman spoke to the man he now has plenty in common with. With Silva he talked about UFC 168 and apologized for the fallout of that event.
“The first thing that popped into my head when I broke my leg, as soon as I hit the ground — actually as soon as I looked at my leg and I saw it flop around, the first thing that went in my head was, ‘I cannot believe (this).’ Like, I thought about you,” said Weidman to Silva (ht MMA Fighting). “I thought about, ‘This is Anderson Silva. Like, my leg looked like Anderson Silva’s leg. What the hell? There’s no way that’s my leg right now.’ And then all of a sudden the pain’s coming in. And I remember when it happened with you, I didn’t know your leg broke as soon as it happened. I thought you were just in pain.
“I circled around and I remember hearing the screaming, like someone was being murdered, and then I came over and I saw you holding your leg. And I just couldn’t not believe it. And as time went on, I tried to get in touch with you that week, I felt terrible about it, but as time went on you kind of forget. And I feel terrible now, because now I understand the pain that you went through, all the trials and tribulations that you went through, and it just makes me empathize with you so much more, with those situations. And to honest, I’ve never even said this out loud but it’s been on my mind really since this happened, but I want to apologize to you.”
Silva listened carefully to what Weidman had to say, but bucked at the idea that there was anything the American needed to feel sorry for.
“It’s (OK),” said Silva. “Don’t worry about that, because I know everything that happened to you in the moment when I broke my leg, I know you didn’t realize. (You knew) I was feeling pain but not (that) I broke my leg. But I want you to understand, don’t say sorry. Because when the people judge, [they] don’t understand what happened inside (the cage).”
“I appreciate that but I still have to get it off my chest, because it is — in my mind, it’s almost therapy for me,” Weidman replied. “Because one of the things that bothers me a little bit about the situation is that there were times, I remember right afterward doing all these fan meet-and-greets ... fans would want me to take pictures with me checking a leg kick and them doing it. And I remember saying at first, ‘No, no, no, I’m not doing that, that’s disrespectful, that’s disrespectful.’ And then as time went on, I was like, ‘Alright, whatever, I’ll do it,’ and then I started taking pictures like that.
“That bothers me inside because now, going through what I’m going through, I’m like, the pain that [you] and [your] family had to go through, just the long road that it took to get back, and then being able to speak to you and the way that you handled the situation — you could’ve been a real prick about this situation. You could’ve killed me and I wouldn’t have even held it against you, but it would’ve hurt. But the way you handled it right afterward with your post — I mean, there weren’t too many things I was looking at, I was in so much pain, but when I saw that from you it really meant a lot to me.”
Weidman also said that he was incredibly thankful for Silva reaching out to him after his injury and sharing his experience of getting back to the gym just four months later. Silva again told Weidman that there was no need to apologize for any kind of perceived past disrespect.
“Come on, Chris, you don’t need to say nothing about that. [We’re] human beings. You have a family, I have a family, and my job and your job is very tough. People don’t understand. People who don’t do the same don’t understand how much it’s hard, how much you need to dedicate (yourself) for this sport. And you’re amazing, because when people are talking about the situation, they don’t understand how much you’re suffering, how much you’re working hard, how much you leave your family alone for training, how much you have problems.
“People don’t remember when you lost your house (to Hurricane Sandy), everything. And every single problem, you put it inside your mind and transform it into power when you go inside the cage. And that’s the point. I don’t judge and I don’t say nothing, and I talk to the people and say, ‘Stop talking about this guy, because this is not easy.’ It’s easy to judge but it’s not easy to go inside and fight, and you do your best. Don’t worry about that. I’m happy because you recovered your leg. Take your time, and I’m going to see you fight very soon.”
Weidman’s timetable for a return to competition is unclear. Though, the former champion has stated that he wants to fight on. Silva’s next contest is tonight. This evening marks ‘The Spider’’s return to the boxing ring. He faces former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.