After losing his UFC middleweight title to Luke Rockhold in 2015, Chris Weidman hit quite a rough patch, as he ended up losing four of his next five bouts with all four of those losses coming by way of stoppage against the likes of Yoel Romero, Gegard Mousasi, Ronaldo Souza, and Dominick Reyes.
Now, however, the 36-year-old Long Island native is back in the win column, as he scored a grueling decision victory over the tough, albeit relatively unknown, Omari Akhmedov last month in Las Vegas.
With that victory and the newfound momentum that came with it, Weidman also seems to have gotten his confidence back, as he recently discussed a matchup with undefeated champion Israel Adesanya, who defended his title with a one-sided TKO victory over Paulo Costa this past weekend at UFC 253.
When discussing a potential matchup against “The Last Stylebender”, Weidman seemed to like what he saw.
“Absolutely (I can beat Adesanya),” Weidman told Chael Sonnen (Transcription via Middle Easy). “I think that’s a tailor-made matchup for me. Those athletic strikers, tall lanky guys, I’ve proven that I can beat. I think pressure, wrestling, heavy punches and kicks…just nonstop pressure is what you need to beat them. That’s the recipe that beats those guys. I’ve proved that with Anderson Silva twice, Uriah Hall another one. Those guys are in trouble against me.”
It’s certainly fair for Weidman to bring up the previous success he’s had against strikers like Silva and Hall, but it’s also important to look at the former champion’s entire body of work over the last few years and acknowledge the fact that he hasn’t always looked like the same fighter that once ruled the 185-pound division. It also must be noted that Adesanya, who is now 20-0 in MMA, has appeared to be in a league of his own as of late.
Regardless, Weidman, a former NCAA Division I All-American and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, likes his chances against Adesanya.
“I think that’s an exciting fight to make,” Weidman continued. “If you look up and down the rankings, I don’t think there’s too many other fights that can excite people the way our narratives could work, and what I bring to the table. It’s not any bulls–t, it’s just facts.
“If you’re into MMA and you really understand the game, you look at my game and you know I present some serious trouble for Adesanya, and more than anybody’s ever had in the past. He hasn’t really fought any other great, accoladed wrestler, other than Yoel Romero who doesn’t use his wrestling so I don’t even count that. I’m the type of guy that will bring that pressure, and I will take him down and ragdoll him on the floor.”
These are undoubtedly some bold claims being made by the former champion, but he has a point given that Adesanya has not yet been tested on the ground in the UFC by a grappler of Weidman’s caliber. The question, however, is whether or not the Long Island native, given his age and the point he’s at in his career, could be the one to test the champion in that department.
Long Island-based sports writer covering MMA, Boxing, and the New York Jets.