Chris Weidman criticizes Bruno Silva for overreaction to eye pokes, open to rematch

Chris Weidman can only apologize for the eye pokes that played a part in his fight with Bruno Silva at UFC Atlantic City, but he doesn’t believe anything that happened negated his victory.

“I feel like it’s a legitimate win,” Weidman said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I won all three rounds according to the judges’ scorecards. Is it the way I wanted to win? Hell no. I don’t want to poke a guy in the eyes. I’ve never poked a guy in the eyes ever in any fight and then in this fight, if you add it up, it was two and then the one-two eye poke as people are saying in the last one. It’s just unfortunate. I don’t want that to happen. It’s never happened before.”

Weidman appeared to clip Silva with a punch that dropped the Brazilian to the canvas in the third round. He followed the Brazilian to the ground and unleashed a flurry of strikes that led to a stoppage, giving him his first win in nearly four years.

Afterward, replays showed Weidman accidentally poked Silva in both eyes, which caused him to fall to the ground in agony before the punches ended his night. Ringside officials eventually reviewed the footage and ultimately used the scorecards to determine the outcome: Weidman won all three rounds to secure the victory.

At the UFC Atlantic City post-fight press conference, Weidman said Silva made a mistake by falling to the ground and covering up after the eye poke. That led to a finish rather than a pause in the action to allow Silva time to recover, he said.

Weidman took responsibility for the accidental foul, but he doesn’t believe the eye pokes that landed were severe. In his opinion, it was Silva’s overreaction that cost him.

“Of course, I’m sorry that happened,” Weidman said. “That said, I am sorry that it happened, and it sucks that it ended that way, but you could make a very strong argument that I got eye poked, by far [with] the most devastating eye poke of all the eye pokes. I didn’t drop to the mat and try to get time, and all eye pokes aren’t created the same.

“I’m not saying I know exactly how he felt, but if you look at my first two eye pokes where the ref stopped it, I barely touched his eye. Even on the last one where he went down, like my finger went underneath his eye. If you really zoom in, it wasn’t in his eyeball, like he did to me with that one with his thumb.

“That’s the thing. I almost came out trying to coach him. It’s like my kids who I coach in wrestling, you’re going to get poked in the eye, there’s going to be things that happen to you on the mat. You can’t just drop to the ground, and turn around, and expect the ref to know what’s going on in your head, and that he’s seeing everything. It’s just a bad habit. Bad things happen when you do that. He got in the habit, any time his eyeball got touched at all, he dropped to the ground and was like crying, and he needed time and all this stuff.

Weidman understands eye pokes definitely hurt — he has a gnarly looking eye of his own after suffering the same fate as Silva. But he doesn’t buy Silva’s reaction.

“Obviously, I don’t want to poke him in the eye, but I just also think what are we turning this into?” Weidman questioned. “MMA is a tough sport. Get the ref’s attention, let him know you got poked in the eye, but dropping and trying to get all this time, and then you go back to the replay, and it’s like, did you even really get poked in the eye? I think it’s a bad precedent.

“Any time your finger touches the eye, he has the right to say it’s an eye poke, and he gets his five minutes, or whatever the time is now. I also think as fighters, we have to be like OK, if it’s not bad, it’s not bad. He poked me in the eye, it looked bad, but you blink once or twice and boom, you’re good. I’ve been poked in the eye in sparring bad where like knuckles deep. That’s completely different. None of these shots were that bad.”

In the end, Weidman doesn’t put any asterisks next to his win, but if the UFC wants him to run it back with Silva in the future, he’s game.

“If the UFC wants to have a rematch of this fight, sure,” he said. “But I would happily move on, too. It’s not like I’m scared of him or anything like that. I felt like everything he had, I feel like I would only just get better. Whatever.

“If they want to do a rematch, that’s fine, too. I’m open to that. My heart goes out to Bruno Silva. He was very frustrated. It sucks, but he fought me 13 minutes, and he was losing the fight. If they want to do a rematch, sure.”