After all the talk of Anderson Silva superfights died down a bit with Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones both locked up in title fights, attention quickly shifted to who is next for the longtime UFC middleweight kingpin.
Following Michael Bisping’s loss to Vitor Belfort, talk centered on Chris Weidman as the likely next challenger for Silva’s belt, and it appears that talk has born fruit.
Long Island Newsday reporter Mark La Monica on Wednesday reported that UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta on Wednesday told Weidman that Silva had finally agreed to fight him on the promotion’s planned UFC 162 fight card on July 6.
MMAWeekly.com later confirmed with sources close to the fight that the deal is done.
Fertitta spoke to Weidman while the two were at the New York State Capitol in Albany, lobbying for the state to finally sanction mixed martial arts.
“Dream come true,” Weidman told Newsday. “Ever since I’ve been fighting, Anderson Silva has been the champion and I’ve been visualizing beating him. Now I have the opportunity. I have to make the most of it.”
Weidman is undefeated at 9-0 in his professional career, rolling through all five of his UFC opponents. His most recent victories include a knockout of Mark Munoz and unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia before the Brazilian jumped to the welterweight division.
The New Yorker has been widely considered the No. 1 contender to Silva’s title since last summer, and any fog about that lifted when Bisping lost to Belfort.
Silva (33-4) has never lost in the Octagon, winning all 16 of his UFC bouts. He has held the UFC middleweight championship since 2006, finishing all but two of his challengers.
Silva is the most dominant champion in UFC history, and regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
He has been on the precipice of signing a new eight or 10-fight UFC contract, but at 37 years of age, has been targeting only the biggest fights on the biggest stages. Silva has lobbied hard for a fight with Georges St-Pierre, while UFC president Dana White has pressed for a Silva vs. Jones match-up.
Silva’s camp initially didn’t want a fight with Weidman, but with the superfights out of the picture, at least momentarily, and Bisping dropping back down the ladder, the fight with Weidman makes the most sense.