Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is one of the biggest characters in the UFC’s 185-pound division, and he’s showing every bit of that character as he prepares to rebound from one of the most horrific injuries ever seen inside the Octagon.
Weidman snapped his leg during his bout with Uriah Hall at UFC 261 in April 2021. It was a sickening incident that mirrored the injury that Anderson Silva sustained, against Weidman, more than seven years prior at UFC 168.
Since then, “The All-American” has been rehabbing his injury, while branching out into media work as part of UFC broadcasts, and even has his own radio show on Sirius XM. But, in conversation with Jim Norton and Matt Serra on UFC Unfiltered, Weidman recounted the experience of that night in Jacksonville as he attempted to explain the pain he endured after his leg break.
“When my leg broke, when I kicked Uriah Hall and I fall back and my leg’s not there anymore – which I didn’t realize because I was like ‘Man, there’s no way Uriah Hall takes any more of those kicks’ – as I go down the first time I spotted my leg with my eyes the first thing I that went through my mind was, ’This is my leg! That’s exactly what Anderson Silva’s leg looked like! This is weird! That’s my leg! This is f***ing crazy!’” he said.
“The only time I’ve really seen it was with Anderson Silva, so all of a sudden it’s my leg. It was mind-effing, you know? That’s crazy.”
In situations like these, shock can quickly take over, but Weidman explained that he remained lucid and present throughout the entire ordeal as medics attempted to stabilize his leg before transporting him from the Octagon to an ambulance and on to the emergency room of a local hospital.
“You know, I honestly wish shock had kicked in,” he admitted.
“As soon as I broke my leg and I saw it, I go, ‘Holy crap!’ I saw the bones and everything (and) I just remembered Anderson Silva screaming in pain, like someone was murdering him. And I know this is gonna suck and here comes (the pain), and as soon as I felt the pain kick in I was just begging people ‘Please!’
“Now they’re moving my leg around, they’re trying to hold it into place as they get me on a stretcher and all this crap, and the bones are moving around. And the pain… I can’t even explain the pain. The pain was the worst thing I could ever imagine. I kept begging them to give me pain pills. Give me something quick, put me to sleep, get me on painkillers, knock me out. I cannot deal with this. This is not meant for human beings to deal with.
“So, once I got to the hospital, they gave me a crazy amount of morphine, but it didn’t help it all. I’m still screaming in pain. ‘Please give me some, just put me to sleep. Please put me out.’ And they put me out, like they put me in a sedated sleep. I guess, because the bones came out of the skin. That didn’t happen with Anderson Silva. So yeah, the bones came through the skin and stuff. So they were worried about infection. So they had to clean it up and reset it and everything before they do the surgery.
“So they put me to sleep, like in a sedated sleep, while they washed it out and put the bones back in the skin. And then I woke back up and I had to wait all the way to the next morning in crazy pain until they finally did the surgery, put me to sleep, and all that. The morphine did nothing. They gave me the maximum amount they’re legally allowed to give somebody. I asked, ‘Can you give me a block, like a nerve block, so I don’t feel my legs?’ They wouldn’t do that. So I had to wait until that next morning.”
It was during that time that Weidman received a visit from a concerned UFC president Dana White, who had rushed to the ER to check on his former champion and found Weidman begging him for help.
“I remember Dana White came to the hospital, which is very nice, he also sent me home on a private jet to get back, which was awesome,” Weidman recalled.
“But he comes in and I’m literally crying a little bit. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at Dana White again, because he’s seen me at my worst moment. I’m like, ‘Please, Dana, I never asked for anything. Please make sure I have a good doctor.’
“They were worried that my leg didn’t have a pulse. My foot didn’t have a pulse. I guess at first they were all paranoid they were gonna have a possible amputation and everything. And I’m in the middle of a random emergency room in Jacksonville, Florida. You’re not getting the best doctors – you gotta get who’s there. And so my one thing to Dana was like, ‘Please just make sure I have a good doctor.’ And he was on it. But it was an embarrassing moment, as well!”
Eventually, Weidman was taken into surgery to reset his tibia and fibula, and was subsequently told he wouldn’t be able to walk unaided for around eight weeks while his leg healed. An MMA comeback was barely conceivable at that point, with the prospect of even returning to training several months away. He later had a second surgery to aid with his recovery.
Now with his leg healed, but still building up his leg strength, Weidman said he’s confident he won’t get a repeat of the same injury.
“I got a titanium rod through the middle of my shin bone, right through the whole (bone), from the top of my knee all the way down to the low low part of my ankle to the bottom of the tibia. And so I think, on paper, I think I’m pretty good,” he said.
“For me to break my bone and then through the rod, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. A compound fracture is not going to be happening. But you know what? My goal is to kick as hard as I possibly can, so maybe it does happen! I just want to defy the odds. Imagine that!
“I’m good. I’m pretty much there. Like, like I said before, it’s just like a little bit, when I’m up on my toes and stuff like that and I start bouncing, I get like a little pain on the shin and stuff. But they’re saying this is (because) the quad and the calf need to get a little bit stronger, still. So when that happens, I’ll be good, I’m just doing physical therapy and still working on that.”
Weidman’s recovery continued as he returned to sporting competition and took part in a grappling match with English submission specialist Owen Livesey at Polaris 23 in early March. But, while he’s still working his way back, he’s staying in touch with the fight game in a different way, as the host of “Won’t Back Down Radio” on Sirius XM every Monday afternoon.
“We talk about the fights for the most part and we have people on,” he explained.
“And then the other parts of the show will just be me spitballing about what happened in the week prior, with the fights and then what’s coming up in the future. It’s like I’m a radio show guy – I take people in and out of breaks, you know? It’s been fun. It’s been a fun challenge for me to do it, for sure.”
And, after getting his first taste of competitive action since that fateful night in Jacksonville, Weidman was itching to get back into the Octagon for the first time since his injury and initially had his sights set on a return during UFC International Fight Week in July. But he had to wait just a little bit longer, with his comeback fight coming this weekend at UFC 292, where he’ll face teak-tough middleweight stalwart Brad Tavares in Boston.
And, after taking the hard road back to fighting fitness following that horrific leg break, victory for Weidman would surely put him right in the mix for Comeback of the Year honors next year.
Photo credit: Sam Robles/Fighters Only