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UFC Atlantic City: Chris Weidman scores 1st win in 4 years after double-eye poke stops Bruno Silva

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 30: (R-L) Chris Weidman punches Bruno Silva of Brazil in a middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Boardwalk Hall Arena on March 30, 2024 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Chris Weidman notched a much-needed win despite judges ruling he had poked Bruno Silva in the eye for a third (or fourth) time. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) (Jeff Bottari via Getty Images)

Chris Weidman is back in the win column. He took a very weird route to get there.

The former UFC middleweight champion defeated Bruno Silva in Atlantic City on Saturday, finishing the fellow veteran after leveling him with a counter in the third round.

At least, that's what we thought happened at first.

Replay ended up telling the truth. A slow-motion feed showed Weidman had put his left fingers in Silva's right eye, then landed his right hand in the left eye, which sent Silva reeling and vulnerable to some fight-ending ground-and-pound.

The fight had already been stopped multiple times due to eye pokes by Weidman in the second and third rounds. The latter actually saw both fighters poke each other in the eye simultaneously. It was a shame because the 39-year-old Weidman was looking more dynamic than he has in years, a stretch of time in which he had gone 2-7.

A lengthy delay followed the finish as referee Gary Copeland and the judges conferred. It was initially speculated a no-contest was coming, but then Weidman was announced the winner. Silva was visibly upset throughout all this.

Weidman proceeded to explain in his post-fight interview he had indeed poked Silva in the eye, and that it was Silva's fault for immediately dropping to the ground rather than standing:

“I got poked in the eye too, but this is my advice to Bruno. Much respect to him, and it looked like I touched his eyeball when he was coming in. You can’t drop to the ground like that if your eye gets poked.

“You’ve got to stand. If the refs sees it — you can’t just drop. He did that like three times, and it caught up to him.”

After the interview, the ESPN broadcast proceeded to explain the fight had actually been called a unanimous decision win, as the judges ruled the eye pokes left Silva unable to continue and went to the scorecards instead. All three judges had it as a 30-27 shutout for Weidman.

The full explanation:

"They went to the scorecards after the eye pokes. They decided to halt the fight right there. And then of course they couldn’t restart it. Initially scored a TKO victory, the commission has reviewed it. They thought the eye pokes were too much. So it didn’t lead to the TKO victory. The fight stopped, and they scored the fight to that point.

"So both the first two rounds were scored for Weidman. And then they scored the third round to that point when it was stopped."

The win is Weidman's first win since Aug. 8, 2020.

One group that wasn't a fan of watching this was UFC fighters, many of whom seemed to think Weidman benefited from some favorable decision-making:

Somehow, this wasn't even the first fight of the night to be decided by an eye poke, as the previous bout saw Nursulton Ruziboev defeat Sedriques Dumas via first-round TKO after Dumas tried to have the fight stopped due to an eye poke. All that did was leave him more vulnerable to some punishment from Ruziboev.

Yahoo Sports' Jason Owens contributed to this report.