If he can rise to middleweight title contention again, former kingpin, Chris Weidman believes fans would be clamouring for a matchup between himself and defending titleholder, Israel Adesanya.
Weidman, who returns to the Octagon this weekend at UFC 261, tackles former-foe, Uriah Hall in a rescheduled rematch, after a bout with COVID-19 forced him from a pairing earlier this year.
Snapping a two-fight skid in his most recent Octagon appearance, the Baldwin native featured at UFC Vegas 6 in August — taking home a unanimous decision success against Omari Akhmedov in a co-main event slot.
The win came as Weidman’s first since July of 2017 — where he headlined a UFC Fight Night Uniondale event against recent UFC Vegas 24 headliner, one-time interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum — rallying to take a third-round arm-triangle win.
Speaking with reporters at a UFC 261 media day ahead of this weekend’s rematch with Hall at the Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida — Weidman took a keen look at Jan Blachowicz’s UFC 259 win over the above-mentioned, Adesanya, and maintains that he would be a bad stylistic battle for the City Kickboxing mainstay to overcome.
“Seeing this fight (Blachowicz vs. Adesanya), seeing how a strong guy was able to out-grappler him (Adesanya) and get the takedowns, it definitely reaffirmed the thoughts that I had on that fight,” Weidman said. “That being said, I have some work to do. I got Uriah Hall. I don’t expect to be fighting (Israel) Adesanya next. I do know I’m a bad matchup for him, and when I’m able to prove it to everybody, people are going to want to see it.“
While remaining realistic that a win over Hall won’t see him leapfrog the likes of Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori into the sweepstakes to earn rematches with Adesanya, Weidman believes he’ll earn a sizeable name with a win over the Spanish Town striker which could land him in title conversations.
“I want to go out there and let the fans choose when they want me to fight (for the title), and I have to do that by making some big statements,” Weidman explained. “I don’t expect it to be right after this Uriah Hall fight. I expect to fight another big name after that. If it takes another one, it takes another one. But I think — win two fights in spectacular fashion and I get to show my potential, I think people are going to want to see me fight for the title.“