Chris Weidman: Is He Poised to Go on a Jon Jones-Like Run?

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

Dec 28, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;    Chris Weidman reacts in the cage after defeating Anderson Silva (not pictured) in their UFC middleweight championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Weidman is set to defend his UFC middleweight title against Lyoto Machida later this year at UFC 175. It will be the first time he is in a title bout against someone other than Anderson Silva.

Weidman had a quick rise to the top and is undefeated at 11-0. His rise has been similar to Jon Jones'.

Jones burst onto the scene in the UFC and quickly ran his way through the light heavyweight division. Save for a questionable disqualification loss to Matt Hamill, Jones is unblemished.

Both had a quick run to their titles, and they have been dominant. The question remains: Is Weidman ready to make a Jones-esque run as champion?

First, we need to look at Jones' title run.

Jon Jones' Title Wins
OpponentMethod of VictoryEvent
Shogun RuaTKO (Round 3)UFC 128
Rampage JacksonSubmission (Round 4)UFC 135
Lyoto MachidaSubmission (Round 2)UFC 140
Rashad EvansDecisionUFC 145
Vitor BelfortSubmission (Round 4)UFC 152
Chael SonnenTKO (Round 1)UFC 159
Alexander GustafssonDecisionUFC 165
Glover TeixeiraDecisionUFC 175

He defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the belt in dominating fashion, and followed that up with three straight wins over the division's top contender: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.

Thanks to injuries and promotional decisions, Jones then faced top-tier middleweights in light heavyweight title fights before returning to take on top contenders Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira.

The middleweight division is now comparable, which gives Weidman that chance. He has already defeated Anderson Silva twice, and legitimate contenders Machida, Belfort, Jacare Souza and Luke Rockhold wait in the wings.

Weidman has a great wrestling pedigree that he can rely on when times get tough, and he has expanded on that by adding in brilliant submission grappling and improved striking. Similar to Jones.

When looking at the upcoming matchups for Weidman, it is easy to tell that he has a much tougher road to replicate the same type of title defense streak that Jones has amassed. Jones' unique frame & abilities made him a significant favorite in every title fight. Weidman will not get the same respect.

The odds will be much closer in bouts with the middleweight elites.

UFC Middleweight Rankings
RankFighterRecordLast Result
1Anderson Silva33-6Defeated by Chris Weidman (TKO), UFC 168
2Vitor Belfort24-10Defeated Dan Henderson (KO), UFC Fight Night 32
3Lyoto Machida21-4Defeated Gegard Mousasi (Decision), UFC Fight Night 36
4Jacare Souza20-3 (1 NC)Defeated Francis Carmont (Decision), UFC Fight Night 36
5Luke Rockhold12-2Defeated Tim Boetsch (Submission), UFC 172
6Tim Kennedy18-4Defeated Michael Bisping (Decision), TUF: Nations Finale
7Mark Munoz13-4Defeated by Lyoto Machida (KO), UFC Fight Night 30
8Michael Bisping24-6Defeated by Tim Kennedy (Decision), TUF: Nations Finale
9Francis Carmont22-8Defeated by Jacare Souza (Decision), UFC Fight Night 36
10Gegard Mousasi34-4-2Defeated by Lyoto Machida (Decision), UFC Fight Night 36

His next title defense, against Machida, may be the toughest of the bunch. He will face another well-rounded fighter with a unique style that is hard to combat.

After Machida, Weidman has to game-plan against the rest of the division. The threats are still very real, but they become easier to avoid.

Weidman has not been in much trouble inside the Octagon, and we have many of the same questions we had about Jones. How will he hold up in a war such as Jones-Gustafsson? Will the other middleweights be able to dethrone the champion in that type of battle?

Weidman may very well be on his way to the same type of run Jones is on, and if he is able to do just that he could eclipse Silva as the greatest middleweight to date. His level of competition will be more consistently higher than that of both Silva and Jones should the division keep developing the way it has over the past 12 months.

It is possible, but in this unpredictable sport it is tough to see how Weidman is able to keep hold of the gold for that period of time against the steep level of competition.