UFC 162: Fighters Chris Weidman Should Consider for First Title Defense
It took Weidman just 10 fights to get to the top of the ultimate fighting world and end the most historic run the sport has ever seen. Now, he'll weigh out his options for his first title defense.
With a heap of talent in the weight class, Weidman will have his hands full figuring out the best opponent to successfully defend his new crown against for the first time.
Will he choose an established veteran or opt to go with an up-and-comer? Let's take a look at the fighters he should consider most.
Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort deserves to be the next fighter who gets a shot at the middleweight crown, and it's been coming for some time. However, it's not the rematch with Anderson Silva that so many expect.
Belfort, who has been adamant on Twitter about his desire and right to fight the winner of Silva-Weidman, reiterated his stance to contend for the crown after Weidman's improbable victory:
Agora è minha vez eu mereço quero meu sonho realizado @ChrisWeidmanUFC parabéns mais eu sou o proximo— Vitor Belfort (@vitorbelfort) July 7, 2013
English translation: Now my turn, I deserve and want my dream to come true @ ChrisWeidmanUFC more congratulations I'm the next.
The Phenom has been on a roll through the UFC and Affliction, with his only losses since 2006 coming against Dan Henderson, Silva and Jon Jones. He recently took down Luke Rockhold and elite fighter Michael Bisping, each with a crushing kick in knockout fashion.
The 36-year-old has been around, and his 23-10 record reflects more on his early-career difficulties than the fighter he is now. But when he faced Silva, he was knocked out very early with one of the most devastating kicks we've ever seen.
Belfort should match up better against Weidman, who utilizes a much more conventional and straight-forward approach than the mind-boggling Silva.
Look for Belfort to be one of the most talked-about names for Weidman's potential next opponent.
Despite what you may have heard from the fallen champ after the fight, Silva shouldn't be discounted for a potential rematch for the crown.
The 38-year-old, battered and confused from the four-punch flurry that ended his reign, shot down the idea of a rematch before even leaving the Octagon.
“I guarantee you there’s nothing more he wants than that rematch with Chris Weidman,” White said, per the Times report.
There's no doubt that Silva has earned the right to immediately rematch Weidman for the crown. After all, he successfully defended his title 10 times and was just coming off a 17-fight winning streak before letting his guard down.
Silva made a fool out of himself by acting how he often acts in the cage, the only difference this time around being that he got carried away and his opponent jumped at the opportunity.
The Spider may not want a rematch right now, but if he's not immediately jumping into retirement, let's wait a bit for him to clear his mind and figure out if he wants to rematch the new champ.
It's far from the conventional opponent or the household name that one would expect a middleweight champion to fight, but Tim Kennedy has proven he can stand up to any task and would put up a heck of a fight.
Who should be Weidman's next opponent?
Kennedy was on the fight card on Saturday night, dominating Roger Gracie in a decision ending for what was the 33-year-old's UFC debut. He's spent the latest stretch of his career as one of the top fighters in Strikeforce.
He's 8-2 in his last 10 fights, with those losses coming against Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza, so he's not exactly losing to unknown fighters. Perhaps the biggest win of his career was against Robbie Lawler in 2011 or Gracie on Saturday.
The U.S. Army veteran has deployed for multiple missions to Iraq and Afghanistan, which only proves he has the toughness that is so important in the Octagon.
Kennedy showed in his first appearance in a UFC Octagon that he's well-suited to take his game wherever it needs to go. He can dominate on the ground by spinning his opponents into guard, or he can fight the entire bout on his feet while throwing jabs and hooks.
It may take some time, but Kennedy will get his chance against the best in the UFC.
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