Earlier this week, Chris Weidman finally received the call to face Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title in July—and it's a fight that's more than four years in the making.
To explain that lengthy timeline, you have to go back to 2009 when Weidman first strapped on the gloves and stepped into a mixed martial arts ring, because even back then he knew one day he would be the man to eventually challenge Anderson Silva in the UFC.
Silva has been the king of the middleweights for longer than Weidman has even been fighting, but the New York native had a goal back then, and now he finally gets the chance to bring that dream to reality in July.
"It's not a fight I've been waiting for, for a year, it's a fight I've been waiting for since I started MMA," Weidman explained when speaking to Bleacher Report. "He was the champion when I started MMA and I've been envisioning fighting him since day one. I believed I could beat him since day one because my goal is to be champion and I didn't get into this sport for any other reason."
When Weidman defeated Mark Munoz last year to move his MMA record to a perfect 9-0, he immediately entered the discussion as the No. 1 contender at 185 pounds. He began a series of interviews and social networking campaigns with one goal in mind—to land the fight with Anderson Silva.
It wasn't easy, however, because for most of the last six months, Silva has downplayed fighting Weidman. It seemed for a while that the fight may not happen.
"I had no idea what was going on," Weidman said. "Like Dana said, we're going to make this fight happen, but at the same time, Anderson Silva is the greatest of all time, the negotiation process is probably a little different than anybody else. I wasn't really getting my hopes up at all to be honest with you."
Now that he's landed the fight, part one of his mission is complete. But none of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication will matter if he doesn't beat Anderson Silva.
Weidman knows deep down inside that it's no different than an NFL team making it to the Super Bowl, then losing. He's honored to fight Anderson Silva, but Weidman reaches immortality by finishing the champion and ending his unreal consecutive title defense streak, which currently stands at 10 victories.
"I'm not getting too excited to be honest with you until I get the victory because that's what I'm here to do," Weidman stated.
"That's all that matters. I didn't put myself in this position to get this fight just to lose, that's for sure. I'd be sick with myself, and that would be an understatement, if I were to get this shot and lose the fight. I'm in here to win it, and I'm in here to go for the finish like every other fight I've had.
Finishing the fight is a key element for Weidman because he's not a fan of decisions. The top middleweight contender has only gone to decision twice in his UFC career with both occasions being a result of taking a fight on short notice.
Whenever Weidman has had a full training camp the results have been much different. He's finished all three of those fights inside of 10 minutes, winning two by submission and the third by knockout. He will happily add Anderson Silva's name to that list come July.
"Any time I've ever had a full training camp, I've had a finish in either the first or second round, and I plan on keeping that going. I have a lot of respect for Anderson but that's how I'm going to take the fight. I think that gives you the best chance of getting the 'W' is to be aggressive and have confidence in myself," said Weidman.
"I definitely feel like I have a lot of strengths where he lacks a little bit. The guy is good everywhere, it's not like he's a bad wrestler or has bad jiu-jitsu or anything like that, but I do feel like I have an advantage in both those areas. I'm going to try my best to expose it."
As the fight approaches, Weidman knows he's going to be the underdog against Silva, and there's going to be plenty of talk about the next fight for the champion once he finishes the 11th challenger to his title. People are already assuming Silva will win yet again and that could potentially set up a superfight with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones later this year.
Weidman invites the doubters to keep doubting because he will gladly spoil all of those plans by beating Anderson Silva and capturing the UFC middleweight crown.
"There's going to be a lot of people that are thinking I'm going to get killed," Weidman said. "That just fires me up because I can't wait to prove those people wrong, too. It's just a great opportunity to do that."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.