Chris Weidman explains what will determine if he retires or continues fighting after UFC Atlantic City

Chris Weidman acknowledges he’s already defied the odds by returning to the UFC after his leg snapped in half during a fight against Uriah Hall in 2021.

With his bone protruding out through the skin and Weidman writhing in agonizing pain, his career trajectory forever changed. He ultimately underwent four surgeries on his leg to repair the damage, and there were subsequent problems that occurred during his recovery.

Heather Linden, the doctor of physical therapy at the UFC Performance Institute, called the compound fracture that Weidman suffered in his leg “the most catastrophic injury, hands down, that [fighters] experience” during an E:60 special documenting his comeback. Having undergone 30 surgeries in total over the years, Weidman confesses that nothing was like the broken leg.

“I’ve had a little bit of everything at this point,” Weidman told MMA Fighting. “Every type of injury you can think of, every joint you can think of, I’ve had, and I’ve battled through it, and I got back in the octagon.

“I made things happen. This is by far the worst.”

As bad as the compound leg fracture, Weidman believes past surgeries on his knee left him further compromised, and that made his recovery and rehabilitation that much tougher.

“For me in particular, it seems to be worse than maybe even other people, because I already had 10 knee surgeries on this leg,” Weidman said. “Now they take a titanium rod and drill it through the top of my knee, through my knee joint, which is already arthritic and having tons of issues and drill down into my knee. So now, I don’t have the muscle in my lower leg like I used to to protect my knee and to protect my leg. My quad, everything just atrophied. Then I got the nerve issues from the bone popping through the skin like that and the muscle. The muscle, the nerve, there’s just tons of things going on in there. There’s a lot that you’ve got to deal with.

“Obviously, I had four surgeries from it, because things just didn’t work out the way it’s supposed to. You’ve just always got to be ready to roll with the punches and keep on going with a positive attitude. That’s what I’m continually trying to do, because it’s still a battle. My leg is still not 100 percent. I don’t think it will ever be 100 percent, but I can’t give up on it. I’ve got to keep working it.”

Despite all the setbacks, Weidman eventually got his leg back in shape enough to fight again, but the result didn’t go his way. He ultimately dropped a unanimous decision to Brad Tavares this past August after admitting that he struggled to kick with his injured leg, and he ended up with a hairline fracture in his other leg by the time the fight was over.

A four-week recovery followed, but that didn’t stop Weidman from getting right back in the gym to begin preparing for his next UFC fight.

That date draws near as Weidman faces Bruno Silva on Saturday at the upcoming UFC Atlantic City card in New Jersey. Immediately after the fight was announced, he confessed that his body had been through the ringer and there was a chance the Silva matchup “could be my last fight.”

Addressing those comments after his training camp was underway, Weidman clarified that his decision on whether or not to retire won’t actually be determined by the outcome of his fight with Silva, but rather the two-month training camp he endured to get ready for the battle ahead.

“I’m not really looking at the result of this fight to make the decision if it’s my last one,” Weidman said. “I’m really going to be gauging if it’s my last one or not on how I feel during this training camp. So probably two things — my motivation, like, how excited am I to be training every single day? My pain — how much pain I have every single day, is my body done? Can I still hold up? Can I still compete at the highest level of levels? Am I having fun? It’s the motivation and it’s the pain.

“If my body can get through this camp and I’m not miserable everyday walking into the gym, and I’m actually having a great time and I love it and my pain is low to moderate, I’ll continue. I love this more than anything. I know I’m really great at it and I can do some more big things but it’s just if my body can handle it and I’m still excited to do it.”

Weidman says suffering through the pain is probably the worst part of the multitude of injuries he’s experienced through over the years, but that’s particularly true with the broken leg from 2021. He knows his leg will never actually be fully healed, because he’s now walking around with a titanium rod screwed into the bones just to keep everything stable.

As much as he loves training and working out with his teammates, Weidman can’t just torture his body to the point of no return.

“When you have pain, just in the warmup, you start trying to bounce around a little bit to get ready for a practice, and you’re feeling pain, it just takes the excitement away,” Weidman said. “Now you’re just looking to get through the workout, as opposed to I can’t wait, this is going to be so much fun.”

Thankfully, as he started his training camp for the fight in Atlantic City, Weidman felt better than ever, and that’s without taking any medically prescribed pain medication. Assuming that continues through to his fight, Weidman anticipates he’ll keep fighting, but the final decision will really be left up to his body to decide what he can or cannot handle any longer.

“Right now, I’m feeling great,” Weidman said. “I’ve been having tons of fun in the room, to be honest. I love training, but if that training just becomes a problem for me then I’m definitely done. I also know the other side of it — you don’t want to get punched in the head for a living for very long. Eventually, it might be the next shot you end up having long-term effects from. I am cognizant of that too, but I also know you only live once, and if you have something that you love and you happen to be one of the best guys in the world doing it, that’s a hard thing to give up.

“Imagine, for anybody out there if you want to think about it, just think of being the best in the world at something and you love doing it and now you just kind of have to stop because you’re older. If you’re not good enough, I get it, but if you’re still good enough, you stick around.”

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