After his classic five-round war with Kelvin Gastelum at April 13’s UFC 236, interim middleweight champ Israel Adesanya has a target on his head.
One of the fighters who potentially has ‘The Last Stylebender’ in his sights is former champ Chris Weidman. The New York native appeared on today’s episode of ‘Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show’ to discuss the newly-crowned interim champ.
While it may have seemed he threw some shade at Adesanya before UFC 236, he claims he was just pointing out that he hadn’t fought a top five-ranked challenge at that point:
“Listen, people were going nuts on Israel. He’s a very talented guy, he’s got great stand-up. And now I know he’s super-tough after that last fight. But before he fought Anderson Silva, he fought Derek Brunson. He fought Anderson Silva, who’s 44, who’s known as a stand-up guy, which is a perfect match-up for him. And it was a very close fight. It’s either you give a lot of props to Anderson Silva. Or, I don’t know.
“But I think, so at that point, people were saying how he’s the next big thing. I just thought at that point he was overrated. He hasn’t been able to prove himself yet. He hasn’t gone against a top wrestler, he hasn’t fought guys in the top five. So I just thought people were getting ahead of themselves a bit. That was it.”
A Bad Match-Up?
Weidman moved on to express his desire to fight Adesanya. He believes he would be a ‘nightmare match-up’ for the striking-focused star:
“I’m a fan of the guy. I like watching him fight. I would love to fight him. And I think I’m a nightmare match-up for him if you look at the paper. Just based on the paper with my wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and my size, I think I would be a real problem for him.”
Despite that belief, Weidman noted he believes Adesanya is a great fighter. He was merely being realistic before UFC 236:
“But I have nothing but, I think the guy’s awesome. I’m not trying to put him down. I was just being realistic in the situation he had never fought a top-five guy yet up until Kelvin. That was it.”
Impressed By UFC 236
When the fight actually happened, however, Weidman was thoroughly impressed like most everyone else. He gave praise to both fighters and claimed it was one of the best fights he had ever seen:
“I was extremely impressed, I thought Adesanya was a tougher match-up for Kelvin than Whittaker was. I just thought the size and everything, the length, and how good he is standing, it was a little tough for Gastelum. Just because Gastelum hasn’t been a guy who has been looking to take it to the ground in a long time.
“But both of those guys put it on the line and I have a crazy amount of admiration for both of those guys, what they did in that fight. I think that might have been one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, so I give nothing but props to both of them. It was unbelievable watching that fight.”