UFC 175: 3 Fights for Chris Weidman to Take Next

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2014

UFC 175: 3 Fights for Chris Weidman to Take Next

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Up for the challenge to handle Lyoto Machida's A-game, Chris Weidman retained his middleweight belt by outlasting the former light heavyweight champ in a unanimous-decision victory (49-45, 48-47, 49-46) in the main event of UFC 175 on Saturday in Las Vegas.

    Weidman, who went the distance for the fourth time in his career and the first time since his win over Demian Maia, grounded a slippery Machida five times and outstruck the cunning Brazilian, 90-63.

    The win ran The All-American's overall record to 12-0 and his UFC mark to 8-0. It also silenced many of the critics who believed that his wins over Anderson Silva weren't merited.

    Although it's obvious that Weidman's in a class of his own at 185 pounds, he only holds wins over three ranked middleweights. With that said, viable contenders who could pose a threat to the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler are lurking. 

    Here are three fights for the UFC's middleweight champ to entertain next.

    All stats gathered via Fightmetric.com.

Vitor Belfort

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    USA TODAY Sports

    He certainly has a significant hurdle to overcome in the meantime, but second-ranked middleweight Vitor Belfort represents the most dangerous challenger in Weidman's path.

    But in order to clear up his licensing issues, Belfort must first attempt to schedule another meeting with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The NSAC cancelled its original meeting with Belfort on June 17 when The Phenom's bout with Chael Sonnen was cancelled.

    UFC president Dana White addressed the issue at the UFC 175 post-fight press conference via Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting, saying: "I think what's next and what everybody would like to see—what I'd like to see and what you'd like to see —is probably Vitor Belfort. So, let's see what happens with Vitor. If this guy can get his business handled."

    The 37-year-old Brazilian has reeled off three straight highlight-reel KO wins since getting submitted by light heavyweight champ Jon Jones at UFC 152.

The Winner of Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi

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    USA TODAY Sports

    While the future of the card seems unclear because of Jose Aldo's injury—which is unspecified at this time—surging middleweights Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Gegard Mousasi are slated to lock horns in a high-stakes rematch at UFC 176 in August.

    Souza has won each of his last six fights, including his first three in the UFC. The Brazilian grappling wizard has racked up a 10-1 record under the Zuffa banner, with his only loss coming against Luke Rockhold in a unanimous decision in a Strikeforce middleweight title bout in 2011.

    Mousasi, conversely, has prevailed in five of his last six outings, dropping only a unanimous decision to Machida in February.

    In their first bout, the fourth-ranked Souza got KO'd by the seventh-ranked Mousasi with a flush upkick in the Dream 2008 Middleweight Grand Prix championship bout.

Luke Rockhold

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Aside from a TKO loss to Belfort in his UFC debut, the fifth-ranked Rockhold has looked unbeatable under the Zuffa umbrella.

    Rockhold rebounded from his disappointing loss to Belfort with exciting wins over 10th-ranked Costas Philippou (TKO) and 14th-ranked Tim Boetsch (submission) in his last two fights. The wins improved Rockhold's record to 12-2 overall and 11-1 in the Zuffa flag.

    Rockhold's wins over the fourth-ranked Souza and sixth-ranked Tim Kennedy put him near the top of a short list of viable contenders for Weidman.