Note: This is a story I wrote for MMA Latest News
UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has been sitting pretty on his throne since he finished Anderson Silva to win the title in 2013. He’s successfully defended it three times and is set to take on Luke Rockhold in December.
Although he has a heavy task against Rockhold, Weidman is looking toward the future and eyeing new challenges.
During a Twitter takeover with the New York Mets during their Aug. 14 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2, a fan asked Weidman about moving up to the light heavyweight division.
Another asked Weidman about who he’d like to face and the middleweight champion responded with one name.
Jones hasn’t fought since January when he defeated Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, which marked his eighth successful title defense. He made headlines in April after being arrested for allegedly fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident. The UFC suspended Jones indefinitely and stripped him of the light heavyweight title for violating the promotion’s Athlete Code of Conduct.
Although it’s not uncommon for former champions to move up or down weight classes after they’ve suffered a few losses, it’s rare to see a world champion make that move while he’s currently on top of his own weight division. Prior to interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor coming to the UFC, 145 titleholder Jose Aldo teased a run at lightweight.
There’s been some speculation of Weidman moving up to light heavyweight and he certainly wouldn’t be the first UFC champion to do so. Silva, Rich Franklin and Murilo Bustamante are former 185-pound champions who enjoyed some success at 205.
I think Weidman would do well at 205. The UFC could either give him a tune up fight with someone in the lower top 10 in his light heavyweight debut to see how he’d fare against a well-known opponent. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or even Glover Teixeria are possible opponents for Weidman’s first foray at light heavyweight.
If the UFC wanted to give Weidman a crack at the title, he would face the current champion, Cormier – who may want to fight if the “All-American” defeats Rockhold in an embarrassing manner.
With Weidman saying he won’t pursue 205 for a couple of years, there’s a good chance he’d faces Jones. The former champion will have returned – and probably have a fight or two under his belt – in that time frame. He may even be champion once again.
But does a fight between Jones and Weidman make sense? Stylistically it would be a close match. Both fighters are well-rounded and have great strength. Jones may be unorthodox, but so is Silva.
From a business perspective, this fight would do well in numbers. There’s no even ground with Jones – fans love him or hate him – while Weidman is probably the third-most popular UFC champion, behind McGregor and women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. It also gives the UFC a chance to promote a super fight between two of the promotion’s most dominant champions. If Weidman isn’t the champion in two years – unlikely as that may be – they could promote it as a bout on par with Silva vs. Nick Diaz, hopefully with better and entertaining results.