Longo: 'Legend-Slayer' Chris Weidman Eyeing Rockhold, 'Jacare' or Belfort Next

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IJuly 10, 2014

Chris Weidman, left, hits Lyoto Machida during their mixed martial arts middleweight title bout at UFC 175 Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

Ray Longo, the striking coach of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, is welcoming any and all challengers next for his prized pupil. 

Speaking on MMA Junkie Radio, Longo gushed about Weidman's recent UFC 175 win over Lyoto Machida and stated who he thinks is in the title mix at 185 pounds. 

I don’t care what happens. Chris Weidman is for real. He’s a great fighter. He’s going to be around for a long time, as long as he can stay injury free. Look, he got Lyoto Machida. (Quinton) ‘Rampage’ Jackson couldn’t do that to him; Dan Henderson couldn’t do that to him; Rashad Evans couldn’t…you know what I mean? ...I think the three top guys would probably be Souza, Rockhold and…if that guy can ever get his act together, which I think I think this guy’s living in a different universe at this point.

Longo later referred to Weidman as a "legend-slayer" for his recent wins over Anderson Silva (twice) and Machida.

While UFC president Dana White has already stated he'd like to see ex-light heavyweight champ Vitor Belfort square off with Weidman next, per MMA Fighting, it remains up for debate how realistic that option is. 

By his own admission, "The Phenom" failed a random drug test administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in February, so whether or not he will get licensed for his next fight is still a huge question mark. 

Rockhold, a former Strikeforce middleweight titleholder, has won 11 of his past 12 fights—with the sole defeat coming at the hands of Belfort at UFC on FX 8 last May. 

The American Kickboxing Academy standout, who spent less than five minutes in the cage combined in his recent finishes over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch, has stated outright that he has no interest in bouts outside of a Belfort rematch or a showdown with Weidman, per FOX Sports

Finally, "Jacare" Souza currently has his hands full with a rematch of his own looming in the form of Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 50 in September. 

Souza and "The Dreamcatcher" first fought at DREAM 6 in September 2008, where Mousasi knocked the decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt out cold with an upkick. 

However, a win on September 5 would be seven victories in a row for the Brazilian, making it borderline impossible to deny him a title shot at that point. 

Given the current layout of the UFC's middleweight title picture, who should be the next man to vie for Weidman's championship gold?


John Heinis is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA editor for eDraft.com.