(Warning: Video is graphic.)
The buildup to UFC 168 was about as ugly as it comes. And the payoff was equally ugly — for both main events.
The focus on Ronda Rousey’s defense of her women’s bantamweight championship was manufactured to be ugly, as Rousey traded insults with challenger Miesha Tate on the reality competition show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
The insults hurled at UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman mostly came from fans, specifically those of Brazilian star Anderson Silva. Weidman upset the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world on July 6 when the champion hotdogged and caught a surprise knockout punch.
Both champions defended their titles Dec. 29. But one ended in a shower of boos and the other with as gruesome an injury as the sport has ever seen.
Silva lost by TKO in Round 2 when the 38-year-old broke his leg on a kick to Weidman. As replays, not for the feint of heart, showed, Weidman blocked the kick with his knee and Silva left shin snapped in half. Silva instantly dropped to the canvas and the fight was called.
But it wasn’t all fluke. Weidman stunned Silva with a punch to the side of the head in the first round and clearly won the opening round. It may have been another strange ending, but Weidman is a legit champion nonetheless.
And unfortunately we may have seen the end of Silva’s fighting career. At 38, with such a major leg injury, it seems doubtful he’ll ever be the same again.
Vitor Belfort, who was in attendance Saturday, likely awaits in 2014. The Brazilian will try to gain a measure of revenge for countryman Silva coming off three straight wins since a loss to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Rousey, who has quickly climbed in celebrity in 2013, was showered with boos all night.
The 26-year-old from Venice, Calif. honed a heel persona on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but she also has honed an impressive skillset in the Octagon.
Tate was a game competitor, pushing Rousey past the first round for the first time in her career, but was eventually defeated with Rousey’s patented arm bar in the third round. All eight of her wins (8-0) have come via arm bar.
But it was her move after the fight which garnered the most heat.
After submitting, Tate waited for Rousey to stand up and extended a hand to shake. Rousey paused and walked away, refusing the peace offering from her main rival.
Rousey praised Tate’s toughness after the fight, but said she would never shake hands with someone who insulted her family.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.