Less than two weeks ago, Chris Weidman was waiting for a call from the UFC about his next opponent. Now, Weidman has been thrust into a fight with middleweight contender Demian Maia that will be viewed by millions on network television.
A big fight like this was inevitable for the 27-year-old Weidman, a two-time All-American wrestler undefeated in his first seven MMA fights. However, few expected such a fight to come this quickly in his career.
Only four fights into his UFC employment, Weidman is already set to compete on the biggest stage in the sport. Although he is likely feeling all the pressure in the world, Weidman has nothing to lose on Saturday night.
Even if he loses at UFC on Fox 2, most pundits will dismiss the performance due to the short time Weidman had to prepare for such a big fight with a tough opponent.
On the other hand, a win would be huge for Weidman. Beating Maia on short notice, especially if his victory is decisive, would make Weidman one of the top middleweights in the world. Though he is still developing as a mixed martial artist, Weidman would be within another win or two of a title shot.
Given the fact that the 34-year-old Maia already came up short in a title fight, this is a must-win fight for the Brazilian. Conversely, for Weidman, this fight will—at worst—serve as an important opportunity for growth and experience.
Sean Smith is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. For the latest insight and updates on everything MMA, you can follow Sean on Twitter @SeanSmithMMA.