After Chris Weidman defeated Vitor Belfort by first round TKO at UFC 187 to defend his UFC Middleweight Championship for the third time, he asked fans to “join the team.” He was essentially asking non-believers to convert and understand that he was going to remain the undefeated, undisputed champion for some time.
That was the last time Weidman would taste victory for over two years.
After losing his championship to Luke Rockhold, Weidman suffered two more heartbreaking defeats to Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi, both in his home state of New York. Weidman was competitive in both fights, but both ended similarly, with Weidman being caught off guard with a knee to the head.
There was a sense of do or die for Weidman when he fought former welterweight competitor Kelvin Gastelum in last night’s main event from Long Island, New York. Weidman looked sharp for much of the first round, taking Gastelum down and punishing him with punches and elbows from the top. But with seconds left in the round, Gastelum rocked Weidman hard, sending him flying to the mat. Weidman was scarily close to being finished, but was saved by the bell.
Gastelum felt that if he only had more time, he could have finished the fight.
The second and third rounds were all Weidman. He secured takedowns and continued to control the smaller Gastelum on the mat. In the third round, Weidman was able to lock in an arm-triangle and secure the submission victory.
“I’m back!” Weidman shouted post-fight, clearly relieved in getting his first win in over two years, but also fired up about what may be ahead.
With current interim champion Robert Whittaker injured, former champ Luke Rockhold just signed up to fight David Branch in September, and Gegard Mousasi having defected to Bellator, Weidman could be closer to a shot at UFC Middleweight Champ Michael Bisping than one would think. Bisping’s fight with GSP may be off for good and, while Yoel Romero is working hard to get the fight and holds a recent win over Weidman, he is coming off a loss where he didn’t look his best. Weidman was aware of the opportunity in front of him and used his mic time post-fight to get Bisping’s attention.
After telling his detractors to “keep doubting me, I dare you,” Weidman made sure to say hi to “that British bum crying at home.”
The war of words spilled over to Twitter on Sunday when Bisping wrote “”Im the champion”😂 u sounded so pathetic. Jealousy is one of the deadly sins.Shame on U. On your knees and pray harder bitch.”
You don’t have to join the team necessarily, but it’s hard to ignore that Chris Weidman quickly made himself a player again in UFC’s Middleweight Division.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: Weidman did look good last night, particularly with his wrestling, and it was a great atmosphere seeing him win in front of the hometown crowd. That said, it has become apparent that Weidman’s chin is suspect and that will surely be a factor against the top middleweights, even against Bisping who doesn’t have a reputation as the division’s hardest hitter. I’m not crazy about giving Weidman a title shot at this point, but it may be the fight to make from a pure timing perspective. Personally, I’d be interested to see Weidman take on someone like Derek Brunson next and see if Whittaker can be ready to fight Bisping by year’s end.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Post-fight bonuses all went to fighters on last night’s prelims. Fight of the Night went to Elizeu Zaleski vs. Lyman Good and Performance of the Night bonuses went to Alex Oliveira and Junior Albini for their respective knockout wins.
-Kelvin Gastelum told media after the fight that he is looking to move back down to welterweight. He said that Chris Weidman felt “really big” and “really strong.”
-Last night’s show drew 11,198 fans paying a live gate of $1.09 million at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, NY.
-Ratings were not good with last night’s show only averaging 1.64 million viewers in the overnight ratings, less than the 1.74 million viewers Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis did in the overnights back in April.
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