Chris Weidman recently raised more than a few eyebrows when he claimed to be as light as a welterweight less than three weeks out from his 185-pound title defense at UFC 194.
At the time, Weidman told MMAJunkie Radio that he was as low as 192 or 193 pounds, which would make the cut to 185 pounds a relatively easy journey. There were a couple of factors behind the Serra-Longo Fight Team member’s decision to go through camp with a more svelte-than-usual frame.
“I just wanted to get my weight down. You’ve got the IV ban. I like to train at the weight I’m going to be fighting at, so that’s really what I did,” Weidman said during a recent conference call. “I didn’t want to be fighting at a weight I’m not familiar with and I’m not used to training at. So I just got myself accustomed to a weight I’m going to be fighting at and trained the whole camp at it pretty much.”
Weidman will face Luke Rockhold in the UFC 194 co-main event on Dec. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The 31-year-old “All-American” has played the role of champion well since shocking Anderson Silva at UFC 162, getting past “The Spider” in their rematch before besting Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort in his next two title defenses.
Rockhold, a former Strikeforce titlist, enters the contest on a four-fight winning streak, with successive stoppages of Costas Philippou, Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping and Machida to his credit. While Weidman acknowledges that Rockhold is a worthy challenger, he doesn’t feel as though the American Kickboxing Academy product is the best opponent he’s faced in any particular area. Instead, it’s the Californian’s all-around versatility that makes him dangerous.
“In my head, I’m preparing for my most difficult defense. With all due respect to Luke, if you put on paper Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida vs. Luke just in the striking department, you would probably say Silva and Machida have better striking. If you were to put Demian Maia [vs. Rockhold], [Maia is] gonna have better jiu-jitsu. And I’ve fought better wrestlers,” Weidman said. “...But I do believe Luke is more well-rounded.
“He definitely brings a different element to the game that I’m prepared for that’s different than a lot of guys I’ve fought. If you were to break it down one element at a time, I’ve seen it all.”
Rockhold might not be the most celebrated foe of Weidman’s title reign, but that hasn’t affected the New Yorker’s preparation.
“I feel better than ever. I really didn’t get out of shape in between training camps. I kind of kept myself low and once I got into training camp with the no IV thing I just kept coming down and bringing the weight down -- obviously being looked after by professionals and making sure I’m doing the right thing,” he said. “I’ve never felt better. Everything’s good.”