In one of the most gruesome injuries in UFC history, Uriah Hall checked a kick from Chris Weidman that shattered the right leg of the former middleweight champion on Saturday at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida.
The 185-pound rematch was instantly called off and ruled a TKO for Hall (17-9) just 17 seconds into the bout inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. But the impact of the injury, which saw Weidman's tibia break through the skin, brought a hush over the crowd and an emotional reaction from a stunned Hall.
The sad irony of the situation is that Weidman (15-6) scored a similar victory over Anderson Silva in their 2013 middleweight title rematch that left the former champion sidelined for a full year. In addition, Weidman's injury took place in the fight immediately after light heavyweight Jimmy Crute suffered a TKO loss to Anthony Smith following a different leg injury that forced the cageside doctor to rule Crute couldn't continue.
"I got nothing but respect for Chris Weidman," Hall said. "He is truly one of the best. It is a crazy story that he was the first man I fought that defeated me and introduced me to fear. I didn't know what fear was and during that time we went different paths. He was the first one to defeat Anderson [Silva], I was the last. It's just crazy how we ended up here again."
Hall was a class act throughout in how he dealt with the aftermath of a tough situation. Weidman, 36, exited the cage on a stretcher after his leg was placed into a compression sleeve and gave a thumbs up to the crowd despite a clear expression of pain on his face.
The fight was a rematch of Weidman's first-round TKO of Hall under the Ring of Combat banner in 2010, which was the fifth pro fight for Hall and just the third for Weidman.
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"I wanted to put on a great performance but I just wish him and his family well," Hall said. "It's the sucky part of this sport, it's the hurt business but I have nothing bad to say about him. I hope he can come back from it. You are still the best, Chris."
The 36-year-old Hall continued his late-career surge by winning his fourth straight and fifth in his last six bouts, which included a TKO of Silva last October. Hall is the closest he has been to the UFC middleweight title picture since making his UFC debut in 2013. He is also the first fighter in UFC history to win without throwing a single strike in a fight.
"It was a very important fight coming into this because he was the first guy to beat me. Obviously I got the win on paper…whoever the UFC is going to line up, my goal is the same, I'm trying to become champ and we gotta play the game," Hall said. "I'm in the rank, top nine right now, I don't know where I go after this, maybe eight, the goal is just to get to Izzy. However it plays out, we'll be ready."
Weidman suffered defeat for the sixth time in his previous eight fights with all six coming by knockout.