The UFC 261 main card opened with back-to-back finishes, but they weren’t the kind that anyone feels good about.
Anthony Smith was declared a TKO winner over Jimmy Crute in their light heavyweight bout at VyStar Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, that opened the main card. Smith kicked Crute late in the first round by the knee. Crute’s leg gave out on him and he wrestled Smith for the remaining seconds of the first.
In between rounds, a doctor asked Crute to walk forward and back and Smith’s left leg collapsed, forcing the bout to be stopped.
Crute walked out of the Octagon under his own power. Chris Weidman was not so fortunate.
Weidman opened his fight with Uriah Hall by hitting him in the shin with a right kick. Weidman’s bone snapped and the fight was over just 17 seconds in. A cast was put on Weidman in the cage and he was transported from the cage on a stretcher.
It was a gruesome injury, reminiscent of the one that Anderson Silva suffered against Weidman at UFC 168 on Dec. 28, 2013.
Hall was clearly distraught at the way the fight ended.
“I wanted to put on a great performance, but man, I feel so bad for him,” Hall said. “I hope he’s OK. I wish his family well, if they’re watching. It’s the sucky part of this sport. It’s the hurt business. ... I hope he recovers and then hey, whatever rank I am in the future, if he gets well, I owe him this fight. I hope he can come back from this.”
In the PPV opener, it was a similar though less disastrous finish. Crute, ironically, was cracking Smith with kicks, which Smith admitted were taking their toll. A former title challenger, Smith was using his jab well and was swelling Crute’s right eye with it.
He landed his only serious kick of the round outside of Crute’s left knee. It appeared to land on the nerve and Crute’s knee gave out. He immediately took Smith down and they grappled for the remainder of the round.
Before the second round began, the ringside physician asked Crute to walk toward him, which Crute did, though uneasily. But when he directed Crute to back up, Crute’s left foot collapsed and the fight was waved off.
Crute angrily punched the Octagon pad, but he later said he was just going to try to pull guard because he couldn’t stand on it.
“Listen man, Jimmy Crute’s a monster,” Smith said. “If he had aimed those low kicks he hit me with down on my calf, we’re looking at a different situation right now. He’ll learn from this. He’s going to want to go [on] no matter what. But I knew as soon as he went down, even if we went to the second round, he wasn’t going to be able to take too many more kicks to that leg.”
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