In a perfect world, Chris Weidman would be preparing for a middleweight title fight right now.
Following a win over Kelvin Gastelum last year, Weidman thought he was in a perfect position to challenge champion Robert Whittaker in his next title defense after he eked out a victory over Yoel Romero in June.
Unfortunately, the UFC opted to give Gastelum the shot instead after he picked up back-to-back wins following his loss to Weidman and he ended up coaching against Whittaker on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ season 28.
“Obviously, I was a little disappointed not getting the title fight,” Weidman told MMAWeekly. “I thought that was what was going to happen.”
Weidman didn’t sulk about not getting the title shot but he admits not being granted the opportunity stung a little bit after he found out that Whittaker wouldn’t be able to fight again until 2019 due to injury.
According to the former champion from New York, the UFC had hinted at a title shot but wanted the fight to take place at the conclusion of the season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and there was concern on whether or not he’d be healthy in time.
As it turns out, that didn’t matter because Whittaker couldn’t fight anyway but the title shot had already been granted to Gastelum.
“When they told me I wouldn’t be getting the title fight, it sucked a little bit but I was ready to go out there and prove myself again,” Weidman said.
“When I found out they postponed the fight and Whittaker doesn’t even know when he’s going to be healthy, obviously it bothered me a little bit but listen business is business. I’ve been on the other side of it where it’s working out for me and other people are pissed off and I’m happy. So good for Kelvin.”
While that was a tough situation to endure, Weidman has the chance to secure his spot atop the middleweight rankings this weekend when he faces Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza in the co-main event at UFC 230.
A win would almost guarantee Weidman a title shot at the winner of Whittaker and Gastelum, who are expected to meet sometime in early 2019.
As far as who he would face, Weidman would gladly face either fighter but definitely he has an opinion about who will be holding the title after Whittaker vs. Gastelum finally happens.
“I actually think Kelvin wins that fight,” Weidman said. “I think he’s kind of a bad matchup for Whittaker. Whittaker’s more of a striker, I don’t see him as extremely dangerous on the feet but he’s extremely tough, durable and he’s got good striking. But Gastelum has the chance to put you out with his hands and he also has the wrestling, at least offensive wrestling, that Whittaker doesn’t really have. I like Gastelum in that fight.”
Weidman already holds a submission win over Gastelum so the storyline would already be in place if the rematch happens with the title on the line.
“I’m probably fighting Gastelum,” Weidman predicted. “That’s what I see happening. It’s probably a real reality.”