Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 | 6:30 p.m.
The challengers entered from stage left, the champions from stage right.
The UFC usually lines up all of its fighters in the same place before they walk out for the weigh-in. The UFC 168 weigh-in broke tradition, with Miesha Tate and Anderson Silva coming out from behind the curtain on the opposite side of opponents Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman.
That wasn’t all that felt different Friday evening. An anticipatory energy coursed through the MGM Grand Garden Arena that few events have the ability to produce.
The venue was scaled to seat 5,000 people, much larger than a normal weigh-in, and only a handful of seats remained empty. Thirty-foot banners of each of the four headliners flanked the stage. SportsCenter cut in to provide live coverage of the proceedings.
Saturday’s pay-per-view card, which many consider the biggest in UFC history, got a grand opening act.
“Anderson Silva had his,” Weidman, the middleweight champion, said in his final comments to the crowd. “This is my time.”
Both UFC 168 championship bouts were made official. Rousey and Tate each came in at the exact women’s bantamweight limit of 135 pounds. Silva joined them precisely on the button at 185 pounds for the middleweight title fight, while Weidman had a bottle of water to spare at 184.
When Tate initially walked out from the atypical side, many assumed it was a ploy to keep the archrival co-main event fighters separated. Turns out it was just a plot for a more dramatic entrance.
Rousey and Tate kept it respectful during their staredown photo anyway, unlike several of their prior face-offs. Tate smiled throughout the pose while Rousey glared into her eyes under a clamor of boos.
Both champions were booed Friday. Unlike Rousey, Weidman didn’t draw disdain for a history of demeaning his challenger.
The undefeated champion, who attempts to defend his belt for the first time in a rematch from UFC 162, simply got the wrath of a pro-Brazilian crowd. It became clear Brazilians had traveled en masse to Las Vegas for Silva vs. Weidman II even before the weigh-in.
The arena’s screens repeatedly advertised Brazilian star singer Gusttavo Lima’s Sunday concert at the House of Blues and top middleweight contender Vitor Belfort’s wife, Brazilian model and actress Joanna Prado, received roaring applause upon taking her seat.
Silva’s appearance brought the noise level to a new high.
“Great show for all the people and the fans of the UFC,” Silva said. “That’s it. The belt’s back.”
Silva and Weidman didn’t reprise their awkward, unintentional kiss from July in their weigh-in stare down Friday. Silva put his fists up after shaking Weidman’s hands, and bowed as a sign of respect afterward.
The boisterous Brazilians were silenced by their other countryman on the main card, as Diego Brandao (153) came in seven pounds too heavy for his featherweight bout against Dustin Poirier (146). UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva were both visibly upset with Brandao, the only fighter on the card to miss weight. Poirier also gave Brandao a mouthful when they faced off.
White quickly pushed the two apart to prevent a fracas. He’ll save those for Saturday.
Check below for full results from the UFC 168 weigh-in.
Middleweight championship bout: Chris Weidman (184) vs. Anderson Silva (185)
Women’s bantamweight championship bout: Ronda Rousey (135) vs. Miesha Tate (135)
Heavyweight bout: Josh Barnett (252) vs. Travis Browne (242)
Lightweight bout: Jim Miller (156) vs. Fabricio Camoes (156)
Featherweight bout: Dustin Poirier (146) vs. Diego Brandao (153)
Middleweight bout: Chris Leben (185.5) vs. Uriah Hall (185)
Lightweight bout: Gleison Tibau (156) vs. Michael Johnson (156)
Featherweight bout: Dennis Siver (145) vs. Manvel Gamburyan (146)
Welterweight bout: John Howard (171) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (171)
Welterweight bout: William Macario (171) vs. Bobby Voelker (171)
Featherweight bout: Robbie Peralta (145.5) vs. Estevan Payan (145)