Chris Weidman will get his shot at Anderson Silva sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, it will happen moreso because of how thin the middleweight division is at the top than anything Weidman has done to earn the honor. That’s not to say that he isn’t a great fighter – he clearly is. It’s just worth remembering that prior to the Mark Munoz fight, he wasn’t even really in that conversation. And because he wasn’t really in the conversation prior to the Munoz fight, it isn’t all that shocking that Silva was reluctant to accept a match with him this year.
Weidman, for his part, gets it.
“It's a business, and I understand what they're doing. So, I don't take it personal. It's just that I put a lot of work in, and my goal is to be champion, and I know I can beat Anderson Silva, and I did enough work to get that fight,” told Sherdog.com.
“I know I'm a terrible, terrible match-up for him. If I get my hands on Anderson Silva, I'm saying it's game over.”
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If Michael Bisping slips past Vitor Belfort (big if, by the way), he will get his chance to get beaten by Silva. After that, though, Weidman will probably be next in line. (Unless Tim Boetsch or Alan Belcher really dominate this weekend.) Is he actually a terrible match-up for the GOAT? Eh. But you have to appreciate the 28-year-old’s confidence.
Benson Henderson’s dominant victory over Nate Diaz instantly catapulted him to the top of everybody’s pound-for-pound charts. As we all saw on UFC on FOX 5, there is really no formula to beat this guy. Sure, he hasn’t proven himself a capable finisher, but titles are earned based on wins and losses – not finishes. There is a reason he has lost only once since 2007.
The obvious question now is: who gets a crack at Henderson next? The division is loaded, but the only two legitimate contenders with Diaz out of the picture are Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. The latter’s loss to Diaz this past August would seem to indicate that he wouldn’t have much of an answer for the problems Henderson poses; the former, however, is one of only two men to hand the current lightweight champ a loss.
There is one other option, though: Gilbert Melendez. With Strikeforce merging into the UFC next year, their lightweight champ versus the UFC’s lightweight champ is a fight that makes a lot of sense.
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Recently, Dana White offered his take on that potential match-up:
"We'll see what happens; a lot of things have to happen before we even talk about this," White said (via ESPN). "But Gilbert Melendez is the one who deserves the title shot."
When asked if Eddie Alvarez -- the guy who White is presumably trying to lure away from Bellator right now -- is in the running, he said this:
"Eddie Alvarez, I like him, but he's not even ranked in the Top 10," White said. "Gilbert Melendez is the man."
It’s hard to argue against either Pettis or Melendez getting the nod to fight Henderson. Both men have earned a shot (sort of), but it’s difficult to envision either knocking the champ off his mountaintop.
Saturday’s big rematch between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez is seen as the latter’s final shot at redemption. If he loses to JDS again, Velasquez won’t be in the running for a championship until (at the soonest) there is a new heavyweight champion. Recently, he was asked about losing to dos Santos in the first fight. Rather than blaming it on the knee injury that was hampering him at the time, Velasquez instead blamed himself for not performing as he should have.
"I didn't execute," Velasquez told Yahoo! Sports. "I didn't fight with the urgency I needed to fight with."
When asked if he regretted fighting with the injury, he replied:
"I made the decision I made and I have to live with the consequences of it," he said. "I've moved on."
Good for him. These guys are warriors – doing battle hurt is what they do. Velasquez is a better all-around fighter than dos Santos, but he doesn’t do any one thing as well as his foe knocks people out. If the fight goes past three rounds, Velasquez has the advantage. Anything short of that, and the champ will probably end up retaining his belt.