Saturday, August 11, 2012
Weidman stuck in holding pattern for now
By Chuck Mindenhall
Chris Weidman is getting a crack at the middleweight title against Anderson Silva.
DENVER -- It was one month ago today that Chris Weidman plowed through Mark Munoz in what was one of the most dominant main event showings of 2012. Part of the prize package for that July 11 performance in San Jose is ending up in Denver, answering questions to an arena full of fans ahead of UFC 150.
Suddenly Weidman is a promotional show pony, and the Long Island native is happy to do the “different chores” that come with the ascension. Yet a month after establishing himself as the No. 1 contender by beating the No. 1 contender, he’s still waiting for the champion to acknowledge it.
The No. 1 reason for the hold up? He suspects it’s because he knows his way around a wrestling mat.
“I’m going to say that’s probably the biggest reason,” he told ESPN.com after his Q&A session. “[Silva’s] management has kind of tried to downplay me, because honestly I am a stylistic nightmare for that guy. No question about it. On paper, Mark Munoz is a lot harder fight for me. He’s got good wrestling, so I could have been stuck on my feet, and he has good hands, so I could have got knocked out. So I took that fight knowing it was a tough challenge.
“Anderson Silva? I’ve got better wrestling, better jiiu-jitsu, so I have a lot more on my side.”
Not only did Weidman beat Munoz, but he escaped with nary a scratch. Munoz wasn’t able to connect with even one significant strike on the one-time All-American wrestler at Hofstra. It was a whitewash, and it served as notice that he had arrived.
The Munoz victory, after winning a big fight over Demian Maia on short notice earlier in the year (when he put himself through the extremes of cutting over 30 pounds in 10 days) was pedestal enough for Weidman to call Silva out. How threatening is his style to Silva’s? Chael Sonnen said that Weidman is a harder match-up for the 185-pound champion than he was -- and Sonnen was Silva’s toughest challenge hitherto.
Chris Weidman, top, is confident his wrestling skills would present all sorts of problems for Anderson Silva.
None of this will look to tempting to pass up to Silva, whose camp has said that a catchweight fight with Georges St. Pierre is the only one “that makes sense right now.”
Meanwhile Weidman has been called out by guys like Vitor Belfort, whom he politely turned down via Twitter while waiting on Silva. And a month removed, that’s where he still finds himself.
“Until the UFC tells me that’s not the fight they want me to have, Silva’s the fight I want,” he says.
But at this point Weidman is realistic, too. If the UFC decides it has different plans for Silva, Weidman is ready to take on the next big guy. Though he didn’t name names, he said he’s resolved to do whatever UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has in mind.
“Yeah, if the UFC comes back and says 'listen, we’re not going to do the Anderson fight right now, we’re going to do something else,' that’s OK,” he said. “I’m going to move on. At this point I’m just thinking about Anderson Silva, until they tell me not to. I’m sure there will be other guys at the time, and I’ll be ready. I just feel like I deserve a title shot, and that I’m the No. 1 contender and I want to get that opportunity.”
Unlike many who have faced Silva, the unique thing is that Weidman feels like the predator in a potential match-up, rather than the opposite.
“A lot of guys went against him to see how they’d do, and I won’t make that mistake,” he said. “I’ve made that mistake before in a wrestling match. You don’t realize until the third period that you belong in there, and by then it’s too late -- you’re losing too bad.
“So I made a pact to myself that I would never let that happen again. I’m confident in myself, so I will just go in there and do the best I can, and if I lose it’s because this guy’s better than me, not because I beat myself before we got in there.”
The question remains, will he get in there with Silva? He’s holding out hope he will. If not now, then eventually.