Chris Weidman's quest to regain the UFC Middleweight Championship is on hold for the moment, as he's been forced to pull out of his scheduled bout with Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 on June 4 because of injury.
On Wednesday, Weidman issued a lengthy Facebook post explaining his injury situation, revealing he has a neck injury that will require surgery:
Weidman, 31, dropped the title to Rockhold via TKO at UFC 194 in December. He was granted a rematch for the middleweight championship and was scheduled to headline the pay-per-view. No replacement has been announced.
The likeliest candidate may be Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who needed only one round to knock out Vitor Belfort at UFC 198 on May 14.
Fighting in back-to-back months would be something of a Herculean task—UFC 199 is just three weeks after UFC 198—but he may be the only middleweight in good enough shape to keep the card going on short notice.
Souza, 36, is 6-1 since joining the UFC from Strikeforce. His lone loss came via split decision against Yoel Romero at UFC 194, but Romero tested positive for a banned substance following the fight. While Romero's victory stands in the record books (his post-fight test came back negative), it's perhaps been tainted enough to not hurt Souza's standing within the sport.
The UFC's official rankings have Souza as the second contender for the middleweight crown. It's uncertain where the promotion would turn if the Brazilian isn't ready to go.
Either way, it's a tough blow given how much UFC 199 was riding on this rematch. Weidman had been talking a big game during the pre-fight hype, saying the loss to Rockhold was a "fluke," per Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting:
I know what I'm capable of. I know my potential and I know I wasn't close to it. The fact that because of what I've accomplished in the past gives me the opportunity to get a rematch is a great situation to be in. In most situations, people don't get the second chance, especially right away. So, I'm very grateful for the opportunity I have. There's no question in my mind that I'm gonna go out there and make a statement, completely dominate him and make sure everybody knows the last fight was a fluke.
The last-minute injury may mean Weidman has to fight his way back to No. 1 contender status. It's just a bad situation all around for Weidman and the UFC.