Chris Weidman looks to re-establish his Championship dominance. He’ll need to defeat Yoel Romero this weekend at UFC 205 to take a step closer.
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman has been one of the important advocates in getting MMA legalized on a professional level in the State of New York. This weekend, he will make history on a highly anticipated card at Madison Square Garden when he takes on Yoel Romero.
The middleweight fight is scheduled for the main card of UFC 205.
Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC) has not competed inside the octagon since losing the Middleweight Strap to, another former champion, Luke Rockhold at UFC 194 in December. The rematch was scheduled for UFC 199 in June, but Weidman had to pull out of the fight due to a cervical disc herniation that required surgery. Weidman was replaced by Michael Bisping, who went on to win the title from Rockhold. Bisping went on to successfully defend the title last month at UFC 204 against Dan Henderson.
A gaping hole has been left in the UFC Middleweight Division. Two of the missing ingredients will take the center of the octagon this weekend to take a potential giant step forward to the UFC Middleweight Championship. Weidman dealt with a neck injury, Romero dealt with USADA, receiving a six month suspension after a tainted supplement caused him to fail a drug test after UFC 194. A mini quazi tournament was put in place, as this fight was paired with Rockhold taking on Ronaldo “Jacare” Sousa, scheduled for November 27th at UFC Fight Night 101 in Australia. An injury has forced Rockhold out of the fight, which raises the stakes of the Weidman-Romero match-up exponentially.
With all of this in play, coming off of a world championship loss, fighting an explosive contender who nobody in the UFC has been able to defeat, fighting in his hometown at Madison Square Garden and a potential title shot on the line, this one already feels like a title fight to the former champion.
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW:
“I try not to think about it too much because I’ll drive myself crazy,” Weidman told the SFLC Podcast. “At the end of the day, I can’t do anything about anything now until I step into that cage, so me thinking about it all the time is just making me nervous for no reason, so I try to keep my mind off it as much as possible. But oh yeah, this is huge man. This is everything I’ve been dreaming about. My first fight ever in New York, fighting a tough guy that gets me that title shot, and I guess me (getting on) that road back to get my belt back and start defending it the way I was. This is so important, this is the biggest fight of my life.”
When asked whether he has talked to the UFC about getting the next shot at Bisping and the belt after a victory at UFC 205 over Romero, Weidman didn’t hesitate to respond confidently.
“Yeah, I’m definitely getting a title shot,” Weidman said. “But first I gotta do my business, gotta get this job done on Saturday night. No brainer, I’ll be fighting for the title next.”
Getting the job done will be no easy task, taking on a super explosive athlete in Romero (12-1, 7-0 UFC). A puzzle nobody from Clifford Starks, to Lyoto Machida have not been able to solve. Romero has had controversial victories over Tim Kennedy and “Jacare” Sousa, however, they are victories none the less. Weidman believes he has the solution to the Romero puzzle this weekend.
“I think my head. I think I’m gonna outsmart him in there,” Weidman said. “Who really is the smarter fighter? If he thinks I’m gonna punch and I’m going for a takedown, you know, I’ve outsmarted him. It’s just a physical game of chess in there, so whoever deceives the opponent more often is gonna win the fight, so that’s goal, is to just outsmart him.”
While Weidman doesn’t want to let the hype of the moment and the event get into his head, he is, however, a fighter who breaks down multiple aspects of the fight itself, from the positive moments, to the potential negative ones. With a dangerous opponent like Romero, Weidman knows he may have to get out of a couple of precarious positions.
“You envision it a billion different ways,” Weidman said. “I always kind of visualize a lot of great things happening in the fight and I also visualize a lot of bad things, and then working my way out of it. I always think worst case scenario. I think (about) getting taken down and working my way back up and getting punched hard and getting wobbly and somehow fighting through it, so just preparing myself for the worst, because if you’re not prepared for the worst, when it happens you’re gonna be in shock, you’re not going to be able to come back from it. I always think worst case scenarios as well.”
A victory on such a big stage against such a tough opponent will be a tremendous moment for him. For an athlete with several, including in July of 2013 when he knocked out Anderson Silva and won the UFC Middleweight title, with his advocacy, fighting in front of his friends and family in his home town, a title shot in his grasp, a victory this weekend could trump winning the belt and changing his life.
“Winning the belt and beating Anderson Silva in the same night by knockout is tough to touch,” Weidman said. “That was all my goals and dreams coming true in one night, changing my family’s life, changing my life in general…Now, I don’t know what this Saturday is gonna feel like when I get my hand raised. That could be something that’s special, being my first time ever fighting in New York and getting “W.”…We’ll see man, the Anderson Silva one is a tough one to beat.”
Another component of this fight for Weidman, is that for the first time in nearly five years, he will not be fighting in a Championship or Main Event fight. Which means, for the first time since he defeated Demian Maia in January of 2012, Chris Weidman will compete in a 3 Round Fight.
“It’s way easier, way less rounds in the octagon getting ready for a fight, way less opportunity to get injured,” Weidman said. “I feel way fresher. Those two extra rounds really do make a huge difference. I always set a hard pace even when I fight 5 round fights, so for me now I’ll be able to set a really hard pace three rounds and I won’t have to worry about much.”
Here is what we know; If Chris Weidman is victorious this weekend over Yoel Romero, at least from what Weidman has been told, his next fight will be against Michael Bisping for the UFC Middleweight Championship. How would Chris Weidman celebrate such a memorable moment of his legacy and storied career? By staying in the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, watching his teammate, friend, and family member Stephen Thompson attempt to make history himself, as “Wonderboy” takes on Tyron Woodley in his first attempt at UFC gold. This is a special night for Weidman for a lot of reasons.
“It’s an awesome experience to be able to watch him (Thompson) accomplish his dreams and his goals and win the belt for the first time in the Madison Square Garden,” Weidman said. “The fact that I’m gonna get to win my fight and then get to just relax and get to watch him accomplish his goals…It’s going to be an amazing night for both of us. It’s definitely a very special thing.”
We have opinions, thoughts and predictions for this historic night at Madison Square Garden, UFC 205. The mere mention of “UFC 205” has sparked excitement, anticipation and sometimes differences of opinions. One thing we can all agree on, is that, as it has many times, history WILL be made at Madison Square Garden!