Chris Weidman may be leaving the middleweight division behind for the time being, but the ex-ruler of 185 has some parting thoughts.
“The All-American” has continued to pay close attention to the developments within his former division. Most recently, he watched the Fight of the Year contender between Paulo Costa and Yoel Romero that rocketed Costa’s stock from prospect to title contender.
While watching the fight, though, Weidman couldn’t help but think of something outside of the bout itself.
“Listen man, I just hope they’re drug testing these guys,” Weidman said in an interview with Submission Radio. “I hope they’re drug testing these guys the right way, cause it’s kind of crazy. I don’t know. [Costa] doesn’t look real to me. But he looked good in his last fight with Yoel Romero, but it’s like geez, come on, let’s be real here.”
According to USADA’s athlete test history, Costa has been tested for performance-enhancing drugs 13 times in 2019. The Brazilian middleweight has not been suspended by USADA for any drug infractions, but he has previously been punished for using an IV, which has been prohibited. Costa received a six-month suspension for the infraction.
Still, Weidman maintains that Costa does not pass the eye test.
“Man, it’s hard to give these guys the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Costa is the second-ranked contender in the UFC middleweight division, and he is expecting to get a shot at the winner of UFC 243’s main event, which pits champion Robert Whittaker against interim titleholder Israel Adesanya.
Chris Weidman on Whittaker-GSP comparison
In the leadup to that bout, Whittaker’s jiu-jitsu coach Alex Prates told MMA Fighting that he believes Whittaker “is a better version” of former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
Weidman is hesitant to place that crown on “The Reaper.” To the former champion, it’s not about what you can do in the gym but how you perform when the Octagon door locks behind you.
“Unless he’s really starting to really not look too good on his feet, is he going to turn into a GSP? And I’d love to see that first before I believe it,” Weidman said. “GSP did amazing with his MMA wrestling and good against so many guys and he was consistent with it. So maybe Whittaker has the ability to do it in the room, but to be doing that in big fights, it’s one of those things, you can’t say it, you can’t talk it, you gotta do it.”
That being said, Weidman expects to see Whittaker’s wrestling on display against Adesanya at UFC 243.
“I think if Whittaker’s smart he uses wrestling,” Weidman said. “And it’s not gonna be one of those things where it’s one or two takedown attempts and you have it, I think Adesanya’s got good enough takedown defense, and especially against a guy like Whittaker.
“I know he’s got pretty good wrestling, but it’s gonna be hard just to take Adesanya down easy. And if he’s willing and he’s got the cardio to push through on multiple takedown attempts and work him on the cage and play that game, I think that’s actually definitely a key for him to have success.”
As for how he expects the bout to unfold, Weidman thinks a new undisputed champion will get his hand raised.
“Whittaker is definitely, he’s a stand-up guy, but he’s not really known for his power,” Weidman said. “He has some finishes, but he’s not like a guy who’s just finishing everybody. He can outpoint you, get you to run into something if you make a mistake. He doesn’t really use the wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
“And Adesanya, I don’t know, I think he’s a little bit more of a threat on the feet than Whittaker is. And so if they’re going to be standing there for five rounds, I’m gonna take Adesanya in that fight.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.