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Chris Weidman Addresses Eye Poke Controversy, Dismisses Retirement Talk

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It wasn’t the cleanest of victories for Chris
Weidman at
UFC on ESPN 54, but given his struggles in recent years, the
former middleweight champion will take a win any way he can get
it.

Weidman defeated Bruno Silva
technical decision in their middleweight clash at Boardwalk Hall in
Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday night. It was a bout filled
with controversy due to multiple eye pokes, including two that
occurred during what initially appeared to be the finishing
sequence. After Weidman poked his opponent in both eyes, he
connected with a glancing left hook, and Silva tumbled to the
canvas. From there, Silva covered up in pain as “The All-American”
unloaded with ground-and-pound to force the stoppage at the 2:18
mark of Round 3.

Upon further review, the fight was scored where the eye pokes
occurred, and Weidman was instead awarded with a technical decision
triumph. At the post-fight press conference (video via MMAjunkie.com), Weidman claimed that Silva needed to
continue fighting after the fouls occurred.

“I’ll never question a guy if he says he gets poked in the eye, but
you can’t just drop every time you feel like something is touching
your eyeball,” Weidman said. “He poked me in the eye bad one time
and I stood there, took it. Unless the ref’s going to say
something, I don’t drop. I come from a wrestling background. It’s a
similar thing. You can’t look to the ref, they’re not going to help
you. Sometimes it’s going to go against you. You’ve got to be
always ready. Ready to defend yourself at all times. He dropped
again. I don’t know.

“Was he looking for a way out? I don’t know, but you can’t just
turn your back and fall to the ground every time your eyeball feels
poked.”

While Weidman admitted that the eye pokes were unintentional, Silva
told MMAFighting.com that he plans to file an appeal
in an attempt to have the loss overturned to a no contest.

“Chris Weidman acted in bad faith,” Silva said. “It’s said [by the
referee] at the locker room that you can’t fight with your fingers
pointing straight, it should be either up or with your hands
closed. He spent the entire fight with his fingers pointing at my
face, and still celebrated as if he had knocked me out.”

Regardless of whether that appeal is granted, Weidman was happy
enough with his performance — all three judges had it 30-27 in his
favor — that he plans to keep moving forward with his UFC career.
That wasn’t a given heading into this fight for Weidman, who
suffered a badly broken leg in April 2021 and has battled other
injuries in recent years. Had he lost to Silva, the Serra-Longo
Fight Team product might have been ready to call it a career.

“I’ve considered it plenty of times,” Weidman said. “I think if I
would’ve lost tonight, if I would’ve not gotten my hand raised, it
could’ve been the last time. I had that in my mind. If I was in
there and I was just, ‘I don’t have it anymore,’ I may have out the
gloves down, but it didn’t happen, and I got the win, so here I
am.”

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