Chris Weidman able to problem for middleweight title after years of challenges | MMA


The final three years have been full of challenges for Chris Weidman.

After beginning his profession with 13 consecutive victories, together with a stunning upset of Anderson Silva to assert the UFC middleweight title and three profitable title defenses, the Serra-Longo Combat Workforce member was lowered to tears after dropping the title to Luke Rockhold on the finish of 2015.

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Six months later, he was pressured out of his rematch with Rockhold, having to endure surgical procedure to restore a cervical disc herniation lower than three weeks earlier than the competition. After spending one other 5 months on the sidelines, he returned at Madison Sq. Backyard, however landed on the flawed facet of a Yoel Romero flying knee at UFC 205. 5 months after that, he suffered a 3rd consecutive loss, consuming a questionable knee from Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 that was deemed authorized, bringing the battle to a halt.

In the summertime of 2017, he and a number of other different Lengthy Island natives lived out a childhood dream, competing at Nassau Coliseum. Following a scare on the finish of the primary spherical, Weidman recovered, rallied and secured a third-round stoppage win over Kelvin Gastelum, halting the previous welterweight contender’s preliminary run of success within the 185-pound ranks.

What ought to have been an important victory that put him proper again into the thick of the title chase as a substitute resulted in one other prolonged keep on the sidelines, because the 34-year-old former champion suffered a damaged thumb within the bout with Gastelum that may require two surgical procedures to appropriate.

After which, just some weeks previous to lastly operating issues again with Rockhold at Madison Sq. Backyard, the person who handed Weidman his first skilled loss was pressured out of the competition and changed by perennial contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

“I’m a ‘glass half-full’ kind of man,” mentioned Weidman, talking with Sporting Information previous to the start of battle week in New York Metropolis. “I used to be capable of practice in numerous methods, however the optimistic for positive was that I used to be making an attempt to develop as a father, as an individual, as a husband and get to spend extra time with the youngsters and the household.”

Weidman added: “I don’t dwell on issues that I can’t management and it simply so occurs that the primary surgical procedure wasn’t profitable — not as a result of there as one thing flawed with the surgical procedure, however the blood provide to my bone by no means got here again after I threw that punch on Kelvin. It was a one in 1,000,000 likelihood and I used to be the fortunate man. It took some time to seek out out that was occurring and they also needed to do a second surgical procedure, however I simply centered on different issues. I wasn’t too unfavorable about it. Every little thing goes to work out simply positive.”

Weidman has smiled within the face of each problem, figuring out each hurdle as one other likelihood to show himself and additional bolster his case for lastly difficult for the middleweight title as soon as once more.

Had he not required a second surgical procedure, “The All-American” could have already obtained that chance.

Regardless of holding a stoppage win over Gastelum, who rebounded from his loss to Weidman with victories over Michael Bisping and Souza, to face present champion Robert Whittaker for the title in a bout that’s anticipated to happen in February.

“Clearly I used to be bummed out as a result of I used to be able to battle for the belt now after stopping Gastelum, however they determined to offer it to Gastelum,” mentioned Weidman. “They have been frightened about whether or not my hand was going to be prepared and I get it. It provides me one other alternative to showcase my abilities and show myself.”

With the champion and challenger anticipated to conflict early subsequent 12 months and the remainder of the divisional rankings in a state of flux, the previous titleholder is aware of {that a} victory on Saturday evening might put him able to face the winner subsequent summer season and whereas he was definitely trying ahead to operating it again with Rockhold, the late shift in opponent hasn’t finished something to alter his mindset or method about his return to motion this weekend.

“I’m pondering we’re in all probability going to battle sooner or later, however I’m not super-worried about it,” Weidman mentioned of his twice-delayed rematch with Rockhold. “As a competitor, I need a rematch with him and to have the ability to showcase my abilities towards him and show myself towards him, but it surely’s nothing private. Hopefully, in the future we get to battle once more.”

However Weidman’s full consideration is on Souza proper now.

“In case you suppose you’re the most effective on the earth, you must be able to battle anyone to show it, so I’ve no downside with this,” Weidman mentioned of the shift to dealing with Souza. “Actually, there aren’t many challenges — just a few technical variations once you’re coaching for a southpaw and now you’re combating an orthodox fighter — however I boil it right down to each guys have two arms and two legs and so they’re each making an attempt to hit you within the face. On the finish of the day, it’s a fistfight and I don’t care what foot he has ahead.”

All through these final three years and the myriad of hurdles they’ve offered, Weidman’s confidence and perception in his skills has by no means wavered.

He’s remained steadfast in his perception that he can beat any man contained in the Octagon and that he’ll as soon as once more sit atop the middleweight division; all he wants is the chance to make it occur.

After 15 lengthy months on the shelf, the ever-confident former champion will lastly step again into the eight-sided proving floor on Saturday evening. And Weidman has little question that his return will probably be a profitable one.

“Nearly as good as Jacare is, I imagine in myself and I do know what I deliver to the desk,” he mentioned. “I’m an enormous, robust man with heavy arms, an excellent wrestler with superb jiu jitsu. I’m fairly comfy regardless of the place this battle goes. I’m skilled, I really feel nice and I’m in superb form. I’ve simply acquired to go on the market, belief my preparation and do my factor.”

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