It looks as if, even after he scored a thrilling first round stoppage of longtime rival Vitor Belfort in the co-main event of May 23’s UFC 187, middleweight champion Chris Weidman still isn’t getting the respect you’d expect would be demanded by the world’s no. 3-ranked pound-for-pound fighter.
Those still unwilling to give ‘The All-American’ his due point directly to the ‘fluky’ nature of his wins over Anderson Silva, where ‘The Spider’ clowned around in the first fight and broke his leg in the second, or even against Belfort, after ‘The Phenom’ had long since been forced to wean off of his beloved testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), something that appeared to make him much more human than he was during his historic run of 2013.
One such critic of the champ is none other than perennial contender Michael Bisping. ‘The Count’ told MMAjunkie that with all due respect to Weidman, he’s been in some extremely fortunate circumstances to become and stay the champion:
“No offense to Chris – and I say this to him all the time, as well, so he’s probably like, ‘I’m sick of Bisping.’ But I say all the time it’s been very circumstantial for him.”
Bisping went on to elaborate on why Weidman’s reign could be construed as a bit lucky, bashing the champion’s resume ever since he earned the title shot with a brutal knockout of Mark Munoz way back at UFC on Fuel TV 4:
“Mark Munoz came back after a long layoff and had a terrible performance,” Bisping said. “He beat Munoz. Then Chris laid out for two years or something like that, injured, then came back and got a title shot. Anderson Silva acted like an idiot, and he beat him for the title. Then Anderson broke his leg (in the rematch).
“Then (Lyoto) Machida came back, and I didn’t think that fight was very good. (Luke) Rockhold showed that Machida isn’t necessarily maybe what everybody thought he was. And then Vitor Belfort, (Weidman) gets to fight Vitor off the juice.”
Sounds like quite the heavy amount of hate from Bisping, who has never been afraid to speak his mind as one of the sport’s premier trash talkers ever since his arrival as the winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2.
But Bisping has his facts a bit wrong in this instance, as Weidman, with his win over Munoz taking place on July 11, 2012, came back in five days under a year to face Silva at UFC 162 on July 6, 2013. His fight with Machida at UFC 175 last July was also in the running for “Fight of the Year” by most media outlets in 2014.
Hopefully Weidman can stay healthy enough to face newly announced no. 1 contender Luke Rockhold in a few months (potentially in New York at the end of the year). Part of Rockhold’s rise was a second round submission over Bisping in the main event of UFC Fight Night 55 last November, so if Weidman can get past the surging former Strikeforce champ, then he’ll be more convinced about the legitimacy of his reign.
Until then, even though he does have respect for the champ, Bisping said his wins have still been very ‘circumstantial,’ as he put it, adding that he thinks he could take the belt from him:
“I respect Chris – of course I do,” Bisping said. “He’s a fantastic family man, fighter, and a great champion. Circumstances have allowed Chris to look like Superman, and I want to prove that I can be his kryptonite.”
Bisping did get back on track with a decision win over C.B. Dollaway at April’s UFC 186, but he’s still got a lot of work to do before he even gets close to a title fight against Weidman (or even a potential rematch with Rockhold). Bisping has largely been a popular and effective fighter who has failed to burst through to the next level by winning a title eliminator fight.
Would ‘The Count’ have anything to offer the undefeated champ at this point in his career?