Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has called for an immediate rematch against Luke Rockhold, whom he said he plans to "demolish" in a bout that means more to him than his wins over Anderson Silva.
While he professed to there being "no personal vendetta" involved, Weidman spoke passionately of his intention to level the score with Rockhold to The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani on Monday (h/t Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting):
That's the fight I want. I'd say that's the fight I deserve, and that would be the biggest fight of my life.
That trumps my Anderson Silva fights. That trumps my Lyoto Machida, my Vitor (Belfort) fights. It trumps everything. That's the biggest fight of my life. I'm going to be a completely different animal, motivated more than ever, and I'm going to go repay him for what he did to me. No personal vendetta. No emotion. Just competitively, just go out there and just completely demolish him.
Rockhold ended Weidman's undefeated record after caging his foe in a suffocating mount during the fourth round of their bout before unleashing an onslaught of punches and elbows to stop the fight.
Despite that severely disappointing end to 2015, the All-American celebrated what he described as a "great year" on his official Facebook account, preferring to concentrate on the positives he experienced:
After clinching the middleweight championship two-and-a-half years ago, Weidman went on to defend his crown against some seasoned veterans in Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort, but only Rockhold could strip him of the belt.
The dethroned king of the division added he's already quizzed UFC chief executive Lorenzo Fertitta on a rematch and admitted while he wasn't at his best on December 12, 2015, he's already training for a second Rockhold fixture:
The next day -- Lorenzo (Fertitta) is such a great guy -- he came to my room and we hung out, just spent time, watched football and talked life. I let him know right there and then that... that wasn't me in that cage that night. Anybody who knows me, anybody who's seen me train or has trained with me, anybody who has pretty much seen any of my fights, they know that something was off. And they're right. No excuses, he was the better man that night. But I'm going to be a completely different person when I step in there with him next time.
That's all I'm focused on. Right now, I'm training already. I'm just so hungry and determined and the only face I see is Luke Rockhold's.
Weidman took the middleweight title from Silva in 2013, the first of two successive victories against the Brazilian mixed-martial arts legend and The Spider's first defeat since 2006.
The official UFC Europe Twitter account recently celebrated the anniversary of Silva's second defeat to Weidman at UFC 168, which ended as a result of the horrific leg fracture he suffered in the second round:
The first meeting between Rockhold and Weidman was running along a balanced path during the first two rounds, but it was in the third that the former began to tilt the odds largely in his favour.
Does Weidman deserve a Rockhold rematch?
Rockhold ended up forcing a fourth-round stoppage, but Weidman will undoubtedly be of the understanding that several key steps could have kept him in the clash, namely an off-target wheel kick that gave the new champion his initial opening.
The All-American also told Helwani he was "happy" he lost on The MMA Hour, insisting the defeat would "create a whole different monster" to the one that slumped to a knockout loss last time he was in the Octagon.
Weidman may have stated there's "no emotion" in any prospective do-over against Rockhold, but it will be a tremendous task to keep his temper in check against the man who ended his 13-bout win streak in sensational fashion.