Chris Weidman explains why he was forced to pull out of the main event at UFC 199

Luke Rockhold will now face Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship

Chris Weidman has been forced to pull out of the main event at UFC 199, with the former UFC middleweight champion set to undergo surgery on a herniated disc in his neck.

"To all the people bad-mouthing me right now, I understand it and you're entitled to your opinion," he said in a statement.

"Just wanna make sure you know this is a fight I refused to pull out of no matter what. I was never in better shape, more healthy, motivated, confident and excited for a fight in my life. I also felt I was the best fighter I have ever been and made some great improvements.

"I recently sparred on a Thursday night and nothing drastic at all happened during sparring. After sparring, my neck was fine and our team actually discussed afterwards how good I was feeling as a fighter. The next morning, I happened to wake up with a stiff neck and with a little nerve pain in my neck and arm but figured it go away in a day or two. Like I said, I'm used to this pain.

"When I finally woke up on Saturday, which is a sparring day, I had severe vertigo which I never experience before. I was losing my balance and not walking straight and the neck was worse then ever. So I got scared and ended up going to an urgent care where they sent me to get a MRI. I then found out I had a large extrusion herniation, which was stuck on a nerve that shuts down the tricep and and forearm area. So I figured I could get an epidural and I would be good and there was zero chance in my head I was pulling out.

Luke Rockhold walks away after beating Weidman for the title last year. Image: John Locher / AP/Press Association Images

"The first spine specialist I went to in NYC was blown away by the size of it and told me he wasn't very optimistic about an injection for me and thought surgery was the way to go, but I just figured he's a surgeon and let him know about how big this fight is and that there is zero chance I'm backing out and getting a surgery. So he sent me to a specialist who does injections, and by looking at MRI images, agreed that the chances of epidural relieving that nerve pain would be minimal, but I was still optimistic and thought either way I'm fighting through this.

"So a few days pass until I could get approved for the injection, so I just continued doing cardio and whatever I could to work around the neck until they could get me in for that epidural.

"After finally getting the epidural, nothing changed. During this time I couldn't sleep or get through any regular-day activity with the pain I was experiencing. I actually felt my best when I was working out but I couldn't survive throughout the day and night without painkillers and other medication to try to block nerve pain. I had another epidural scheduled for this Thursday but the doctors said again that it most likely wouldn't make a difference. I still planned on fighting until yesterday when my coaches and loved ones really just put their foot down. The people I trusted most were not behind me fighting and pushing through. So before getting the second epidural I decided to give the UFC a fair amount of time to find another opponent for Luke.
This was obviously a fight bigger than any for me and I trained harder and smarter then ever but apparently GOD has other plans for me.

"I am being told I'm going to need surgery. Either they take the disc out or they fuse it and I have to meet with surgeons today to figure out what they will do. The good thing is it is c6-7 which is low in the neck, so I will have full range of motion either way and will be back better then ever. I'm told it's six-to-eight week recovery for the disc coming out and twelve weeks for a fusion. Even though it's very hard for me to see a bright side right now, the one silver lining I'm focused on is the timetable would allow me to fight on that NY card in November."

Luke Rockhold will now face Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight championship