Chris Weidman has fallen on hard times in recent years, but his ultimate goal has not wavered.
Once on top of the world as the man who dethroned Anderson Silva and defended the UFC middleweight belt three times, “The All-American” has just one win to his name since 2015.
Weidman is 1-4 in his last five bouts, and all of his losses have come by KO/TKO. Injuries have derailed any momentum he has been able to attain.
Now, he’s ready to put the past behind him and begin a new chapter.
Weidman is set to make his light heavyweight debut at UFC Boston on Oct. 18 against undefeated contender Dominick Reyes, and he’s looking forward to the chance to start anew.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for me to make a real big statement in the 205-pound division, as opposed to me taking a guy on that most people think I can beat and they’re not ranked as highly,” Weidman told Submission Radio.
“This is a guy a lot of people are believing in and thinking he’s got a chance of fighting for the belt and possibly being a champion one day, and so for me to come along and go out there and have a good performance against him, I think it puts me right in the discussion at 205.”
Reyes is currently the fourth-ranked light heavyweight contender, and he’s the only fighter in the top four that hasn’t had a shot at champion Jon Jones.
Weidman believes he has the blueprint to place the first blemish on Reyes’ record.
“He’s never even faced a wrestler, let alone a wrestler of my pedigree and my MMA experience, and he’s never had a taste of that,” Weidman said. “I mean, he got taken down four times from Oezdemir. And Oezdemir, I don’t think had more than two takedowns in his UFC career. So, I think the wrestling, along with my jiu-jitsu, is the real x-factor; and the pace.
“Everyone can stop one or two or three takedowns, but I’m not gonna stop coming. And he also has to worry about my hands hitting his chin. So, I just think I bring a lot of danger to the table.”
If Weidman’s recent performances are any indication, the UFC Boston headliner is likely to provide an exciting finale to the show.
“I’m expecting a war with him regardless, because I know he’s hungry and he believes in himself,” Weidman said. “But I think once I’m in the positions that I know I can get to, it’s gonna be some rude awakening.”
Weidman didn’t make the move to 205 pounds to simply rack up a couple of wins before calling it a career. He remains narrowed in on the goal that he set before he stepped foot into the Octagon: become a legend.
“Being the guy that shocks the world, not once but twice, against what people think are the greatest of all time, and against someone that most people think can’t even be beaten. And that’s where Anderson Silva was when I fought him and this is where Jon Jones is right now, and so that motivates the hell out of me,” Weidman said. “That’s the legacy I want.”
Since claiming the vacant light heavyweight title with a third-round TKO win over Alexander Gustafsson in December of 2018, Jones has been more active than he had been in recent years. He has been able to avoid suspensions and legal trouble that previously hindered his ability to compete more than once a year.
Jones handily defeated former middleweight Anthony Smith in March, and he returned to win a razor-thin decision over another former 185er Thiago Santos in July.
The fight with Santos saw Jones unable to finish a fighter that sustained a knee injury early on in the five-round bout, which fueled Weidman’s idea that Jones is not the unstoppable force he is often made out to be.
“I don’t think he’s looked that good, I don’t think he’s looked as dangerous,” Weidman said. “He’s not finishing, and I see there’s a lot of… he’s great, but I see there’s definitely holes in there.”
The recent fights will lead more people to agree with Weidman’s thoughts on Jones, but this isn’t something that the former middleweight champion only recently theorized.
“I always believed there’s a blueprint to beat him,” Weidman said. “You see it a little bit more, but I always knew he’s beatable, and I think if it was a guy like me with power in the hands and also the wrestling that’s better and jiu-jitsu. So, I think that’s really how you take it to him.
“But no one’s been able to do that yet. He’s done a great job, he adjusts really well in there. So, that’s the goal, is to get in there with him.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.