UFC’s Chris Weidman at Crossroads

Chris Weidman suffered his second career loss in consecutive TKO fashion at UFC 205 a month ago, which paints him in the darkest corner he’s ever endured in his MMA career.

You don’t have to look far in order to relive the “All-American’s” brighter days as UFC middleweight champion, in which he collected legendary names that include, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, and Vitor Belfort.

Prior to losing his middleweight title to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194, Weidman made it clear that he expected to remain a long term champion at 185 pounds and even predicted challenging the light heavyweight king, Jon Jones after cleaning out his division. The resume spoke for itself and his technique in keeping his weight low prior to UFC 194 led many to believe the best was yet to come for the Long Island native.

Flash forward to today and the former champion who never tasted defeat in MMA finds himself pondering his next opponent. Rather than contemplate facing someone like Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza or rematching Luke Rockhold, he’s seeking a fight against the lower ranked Robert Whittaker or Gegard Mousasi. This is not to say Whittaker or Mousasi are not serious players in the division, instead it begs the question on whether we’ll see Chris Weidman challenging for the middleweight title after suffering TKO losses to the #1 and #2 ranked fighters of his division. The #3 ranked Jacare Souza would likely be favored in a matchup against the Longo-Serra product, but unlike Souza, time appears to be on Weidman’s side.

Weidman is 32 while Souza is 36, Romero is 39 and the champion, Michael Bisping is 37. Perhaps a a brief trip to the bleak 205 lb division is in order while Jon Jones is serving his year long suspension. It won’t take long for Weidman to earn a title shot, in fact a victory over somebody like Ryan Bader could lead to a quick title shot. The history between both men could add to the intrigue as Weidman holds a 2006 victory over Bader in the NCAA Division Wrestling Championship tournament.

The problem Weidman faced in each of his last two performances was the impression of being outmatched by his opponents. Weidman,while a great athlete, did not appear so imposing against Rockhold and the perfectly placed flying knee by Yoel Romero was due to adjustments made against Weidman’s predictable attack. From a spectator’s point-of-view, it’s strange seeing Weidman’s wrestling negated and his once feared pressure countered by bigger shots. Rockhold used his body kicks and right hook to keep Weidman at bay, while Romero was able to put Weidman on his back in the second round of their affair.

Another important aspect to point out in both losses are the mental lapses that served as a precursor. The ill advised spinning back kick thrown at Rockhold in the third round of their fight and the constant obvious double leg attacks Weidman tried in the final round against Romero prior to eating a knee. Weidman has shown flashes of brilliances in both losses, however it appears as if he lacked the edge needed in finding success. The shot selection in both fights proved to be his undoing and fortunately for the former champ, it shouldn’t completely hinder his chances of regaining UFC gold.

Although UFC’s New York City debut did not work out the way Weidman would’ve liked, there are plenty of opportunities for him to enjoy victory in front of his home crowd. Win or lose, an exciting fight is always guaranteed when the “All-American” steps into he octagon.

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