Ex-UFC champ Chris Weidman explains why he's moving up to light heavyweight
CHICAGO – Chris Weidman is finally pulling the trigger on a move up to light heavyweight.
Former UFC middleweight champion Weidman (14-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) has been contemplating a change in division for several years. He’s never fully committed to it but said Saturday night that now is the time to make it happen, and confirmed his next fight will be at 205 pounds.
After gaining some mass through the rehabilitation process following a pair of neck surgeries, Weidman believes the timing is right.
“I’ve had two back-to-back surgeries, I’m coming off a loss, and I’m just like, my weight’s going kind of high,” Weidman said backstage at UFC 238. “I’ve accomplished my goals at (185 pounds). I’ve had that belt wrapped around me four different times. I really wanted to get it back, and I’m not saying the door is totally shut on that idea. I’m not saying the door is totally shut on ’85, but the weight cuts are tough, and I kind of want to see what my body is like without depleting itself.
“I won’t be the biggest 205er, that’s definitely for sure. But I don’t think I’ll be the smallest. I think I bring things to the table that could be an issue for a lot of those guys.”
Weidman, 34, said fighting at light heavyweight has always been part of his career plan. However, it hasn’t happened in the fashion he originally expected. He thought the scenario would see him moving up as champion to go for a dual-division bid, but he’s obviously far removed from his reign. After four losses in his past five, it’s more of a fresh start.
“I always wanted to go up to 205,” Weidman said. “The goal, when everything was good when I was undefeated and champion of the world, the goal was to defend my belt a few times at ’85, move up to 205 and beat Jon Jones. That was always the goal, then things changed. You have to reevaluate your goals, and now I’m going up to 205.”
Weidman said his current timeline is setting up a return to the octagon in October. As far as opponents go, Weidman said he’s conflicted about the level of matchup he will accept to start off the next chapter of his career.
“Honestly I don’t care,” Weidman said. “One side of me is like, ‘Listen, I’ve fought 10 or 11 top-five guys in a row.’ Is it the smart thing to fight a guy who is not on that level? Probably, but I like to take risks. High risk, high reward. The better the guy, the more people doubting, and I think that’s what truly motivates me and excites me.”
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