Chris Weidman will be dropping back down to middleweight and will get a top-15 opponent when he does so.
The former UFC middleweight champion went up to light heavyweight to headline UFC Boston against Dominick Reyes. There, he suffered a first-round knockout loss. Since the fight, he has been contemplating his next move of whether he would compete at 185 or 205-pounds. He was adamant he would not retire and now has been booked to return to middleweight.
Russian outlet TASS was first to report that Weidman will battle Omari Akhmedov on August 1. Both fighters have since confirmed the news on their social media outlets.
Weidman is currently 1-5 in his last six fight and on a two-fight losing skid. Before the loss to Reyes, the 35-year-old suffered a knockout loss to Jacare Souza at UFC 230. His lone win in the past six fights came by submission over Kelvin Gastelum. The former champ claimed UFC gold back at UFC 162 where he knocked out Anderson Silva to be 10-0 and the middleweight champ. He then defended against Silva, Lyoto Machida, and Vitor Belfort before losing his belt to Luke Rockhold.
Omari Akhmedov, meanwhile, is ranked 11th in the middleweight division and riding a six-fight unbeaten streak. Last time out, the 32-year-old beat Ian Heinisch by decision at UFC 245. He also picked up two more decision wins over Zak Cummings and Tim Boetsch during this run with a draw against Marvin Vettori at UFC 219.
The Russian is a former welterweight who has found success in the UFC. He is 8-3-1 inside the Octagon with a win over Abdul Razak Alhassan at welterweight.
Should Chris Weidman lose here, there will no doubt be questions for him to hang it up. But, a win over the streaking Russian puts him back into the top-10 of the division and a chance to work his way back up to a title shot.
The August 8 event will be headlined by Derrick Lewis vs. Alexey Oleynik. Whether this will be the co-main is unknown.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime