No excuses, but Weidman fought Rockhold with broken foot

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman admits to having fought with a broken foot during his December loss to Luke Rockhold. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Several weeks before former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman suffered his first professional loss, he wasn't healthy enough to bowl.

According to his head coach Ray Longo, Weidman was in enough pain from a fractured foot that he didn't want to stand while they were at a bowling alley in November. In fact, Weidman literally took his turns bowling while seated on a couch situated near the lane.

"If you want to know the truth, he was banged up," Longo told ESPN.com. "He had a fractured foot in two places. We tried to work around it, but I think mentally it had an effect on him, because he wasn't able to push the cardio the right way."

If that sounds like an excuse for Weidman's fourth-round TKO loss to Luke Rockhold (15-2) at UFC 194 on Dec. 12, be assured it's not.

Weidman (12-1) has repeatedly stated in the aftermath of the loss that Rockhold deserved to beat him and take his title. He even declined to reveal the injury at first, only doing so earlier this month to a news station in his native Long Island, New York.

As it turned out, Rockhold wasn't healthy either. He revealed after the fight that he'd dealt with a staph infection during the later part of his camp.

The fact is, in mixed martial arts, it's rare for anyone to go into a fight injury free. And even a longtime coach like Longo is still searching for the right formula to determine when an athlete should pull out.

Weidman, for instance, has now seen every angle of it. He made the decision to withdraw from a title bout before. He has fought injured and won (despite a cracked rib against Alessio Sakara and a broken hand against Lyoto Machida) and now he has fought injured and lost.

Longo says it's the fighters who ultimately make the decision and usually they're going to chose to fight. After Weidman's loss, Longo wonders if he should have made that difficult decision for him and demanded he be pulled. There's never a right answer, it seems.

"He has fought with injuries before," Longo said. "I've seen this guy walk through fire before -- but as his coach, I feel bad. Maybe I should have been more vocal about this or that. You can't make excuses. His teammate, Aljamain Sterling, was banged up going into his fight on Dec. 11 and he won. So, you never know.

"If you decide to fight, what can you do during camp? Put a boot on him, so someone takes a picture and he's walking around in a boot? He didn't wear one. It's a nightmare. And these guys are my friends, so I'm in a weird spot sometimes. You basically have to tell them they're not doing it."

If there is a silver lining in Weidman's title loss, it's that he doesn't have to wait long for a shot at redemption. The UFC has already announced an immediate rematch between Weidman and Rockhold at UFC 199 in June.

Weidman has spoken about changes he intends to make in preparations. According to Longo, in addition to general improvement and drills, one change he plans to implement is the use of elbow pads in sparring. Weidman suffered the injury when he caught teammate Gian Villante's elbow with a kick.

"I don't want to be that guy making excuses, I hate it when guys do that," Weidman said. "I think everybody is excited about what I can bring to the table in a rematch. If people have watched my fights, they can probably see it wasn't me in there that night. Luke capitalized on it and deserves to be a champion. I'm deserving of a rematch. I can beat Luke Rockhold and people want to see that."