UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is riding a wave of momentum right now. He dethroned arguably the greatest mixed martial artist in history at July’s UFC 162, and he did it after a tumultuous year that included him losing his house to a hurricane and having shoulder surgery.
There’s no doubt that Weidman is one of the toughest and most well-rounded combatants fighting in the UFC today, but what got him the win against Silva was his mental preparedness. He told anyone who would listen that he was going to beat “The Spider,” and you could tell he believed it even if no one else did.
Now that he’s preparing for an anticipated rematch with Silva at this Saturday’s UFC 168, Weidman is going in with the same confidence that he had before. He met up with the UFC to discuss his focus heading into one of the biggest MMA fights of all time:
“No, I don’t have any doubts at the current moment. You always have doubts that crawl into your mind and I think that one of the biggest parts of having a winner’s mindset is being able to deal with those doubts, erase them out of your mind. But for this next fight, I’m confident I’m going to win.”
It sounds like a replay of Weidman’s UFC 162 pre-fight interviews. The champ is always calm and confident despite being the underdog heading into a fight against a man he already beat. The burden of being champion doesn’t seem to get to him too much, evident by his response when asked if there was more pressure to keep the title or his undefeated record intact:
“Neither. Neither brings pressure. It’s just about going out there and performing well is what I put pressure on myself to do. I want to go in there and shine, there’s going to be a lot lights on us in this one, a lot of people are going to be watching, it’s going to be one of the biggest fights in UFC history. It’s my opportunity to kind of shine to the people, my opportunity to let everyone know that I’m not here to play around, I’m not here just to beat Anderson Silva once, I’m here to be champion and be champion for a long time, so this is my opportunity to kind of separate myself from the rest of the division.”
Indeed Weidman can get some separation from a talented division if he can defeat Silva for a second time. There’s a long list of worthy contenders for Weidman’s belt lining up behind “The Spider,” but something tells me that doesn’t matter much to “The All-American.”
He may not be a flashy champion but he gets the job done. Weidman wants to fight the best and he has the focus and determination to defeat them.
However, in a division fully populated with so many dangerous strikers, anything can happen. Will Weidman begin a long title reign by putting an exclamation point on Silva at UFC 168?
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports