With Chris Weidman’s last victory taking place in 2015, the “All American” has his back up against the wall due to the three fight losing streak he’s currently experiencing. Should he lose to Gastelum, it’s unlikely the UFC cuts him, instead we might see Weidman test the waters at 205 lbs.
Weidman has never been shy about foreseeing his career transition to light heavyweight and noted that his dream fight would be to eventually take on Jon Jones.
During his run as champion, it was fun to imagine how the fight would turn with some even picking Weidman as the winner in a potential bout, but today it sounds more like a mismatch. The momentum clearly favors Jones at the moment.
Weidman could benefit from the move to light heavyweight in terms of keeping on extra size heading into fight night, but there is no doubt his biggest advantage would be his wrestling. If you take a look at the light heavyweight division, you’d find the top two head honchos in Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, both whom have established themselves as highly successful MMA wrestlers and overall competitors.
After that you’d have Alexander Gustafsson, who despite not coming from a wrestling background, still managed to stuff countless amount of take downs from both DC and Jones and even scored takedowns on both opponents. Weidman would almost certainly have a difficult time scoring a takedown on Gustafsson and then there’s the superior striking “The Mauler” possesses.
Then you’ve got Jimi Manuwa who is more notable for his knockout power rather than a knack for grappling. Weidman could potentially hold an advantage in a proposed fight, but in the end, Manuwa’s power could ultimately be the deciding factor.
Lower down the list, you’d find Glover Teixeira sitting below the upper echelon of the division and it appears he is closer to being a gatekeeper than a contender, but it wouldn’t be smart to count him out. His brazilian jiu jitsu background could pose issues for Weidman as he attempts to shoot on the Brazilian competitor. Then again, Weidman happens to have a strong record against Brazilian based fighters.
The current dark horse in the division is the exciting Volkan Oezdemir, who finds himself in a title eliminator fight against Jimi Manuwa at UFC 214. Oezdemir does not possess a wrestling background, but he’s displayed a capacity for knockouts in his latest fight against fellow prospect Misha Cirkunov last month. The win was one he was falling behind in due to the pressure being placed on him, which is essential considering Weidman’s style of fighting. Weidman established himself as a fighter with a strong will and chin, but he’s not only coming off three consecutive losses, he’s also lost via TKO in each of those bouts.
The competition will undoubtedly be larger and stronger, but more importantly they all seem to possess top notch striking ability and Weidman has been looking lost in that aspect as of late. Should he decide to take that step up, it’d be difficult to see him going in as a favorite. The previously undefeated middleweight champion is at a crossroads in his career, but it might be best to stick around at middleweight win or lose against Kelvin Gastelum.