Chris Weidman: UFC Belt System Has Changed, But Wins Still Get Title Shots

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 4, 2017

On Saturday, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman will attempt to halt a two-fight skid when he faces Gegard Mousasi in the UFC 210 co-headliner in Buffalo, N.Y.

It’s unfamiliar territory for the Serra-Longo Fight Team member, who began his professional tenure with 13 straight victories, ending the lengthy 185-pound reign of Anderson Silva along the way. Once regarded as the unquestioned best in the division, Weidman knows he has some work to do to regain that status after being finished by Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold in his last two outings.

Still, the “All-American” doesn’t view the showdown with Mousasi as a crossroads fight in his career.

“Crossroads? No. I don’t see it as a threat, I see it as a challenge,” Weidman said during a recent conference call. “I’ve got a tough guy in front of me who’s on a win streak. [That’s] something I’m very familiar with, fighting guys on win streaks. I want to become the best in the world, I want to get that belt back. Fighting a guy like Gegard Mousasi is the type of guy I need to do it. I’m more motivated than ever to get the job done, especially coming off of two losses.”

While Weidman does eventually have designs on reclaiming middleweight gold, his current focus is only on himself. So while much of the MMA community has expressed its displeasure with the announcement that reigning champion Michael Bisping will defend his title against the returning Georges St. Pierre later this year, Weidman hasn’t given it all that much thought. However, even he admits that the booking is a little curious.

“I only can control what I can control. I don’t worry about the things I can’t control. I can control me beating Mousasi on April 8. As far as Bisping and GSP, I think it’s definitely going to hold up the division. It’s a weird fight to have for the middleweight title for sure,” Weidman said. “I understand people getting upset but I just feel like everything’s gonna work out for me. I’m gonna get the belt back. I just have to take it one fight at a time, but it’ll work out for me.”

Even with a win over Mousasi, Weidman likely has more work to do before he can consider challenging for the belt again. After all, Romero, the rightful No. 1 contender, is currently in purgatory due to the Bisping vs. St. Pierre announcement, and Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza are also currently ranked ahead of the New York native.

  “Of course I’d love to fight for the title right away, but I have no idea what’s going to happen. I could fight two, three, four, five [times], I don’t care. I’m focused on the process,” Weidman said. “I’m enjoying getting better. I’m just focused on getting better. Eventually the title shot will come. That’s gonna happen.”

Although St. Pierre will be receiving a middleweight title shot despite having never competed at the weight class, Weidman doesn’t think the basic process of getting to the top has changed all that much.

“I know you keep winning and you get the title shot,” he said. “I’ve had it before and I didn’t expect to get it after a loss. It’s gonna happen with wins. I think the sport’s changed a little bit with the belt system, but I don’t think it’s going to affect me.”

According to Weidman, getting back to the lofty spot he once occupied is relatively simple.

“I need to prove myself. I’ve got to put on some good performances. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna go out there and put on a good performance….and hope that people back me and they want to see me fight for the title,” Weidman said. “We’ll see what’s going on. If not, I’m gonna keep on fighting whoever they put in front of me.”


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