When Chris Weidman stepped into the Octagon on July 11 to face Mark Munoz, he looked to make a statement. If actions speak louder than words, the “All-American” screamed at the top of his lungs that he’s ready for a title bout that night. The New Yorker not only threw down a virtuoso performance against what was arguably the number-three middleweight on the planet, moreover he did so by engaging Munoz in his own realm of scramble-heavy grappling. It was on the feet, however, where the Hofstra product put an end to Munoz’s night. One beautiful standing elbow later and “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” found himself with his face buried into the canvas.
After arguably the most brilliant performance of his career, Weidman, fanship, and media alike all called for a bout with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The problem was that Silva didn’t feel as though Weidman had earned a shot against him. If we may be honest with ourselves for one minute, Silva is one of the UFC’s top draws and as a result has garnered a pay per-view percentage in his contract. Silva doesn’t want to fight Weidman yet because despite the virtuoso performance at UFC on Fuel TV 4, the fact remains that it was on Fuel, a platform that isn’t readily available to a great chunk of the masses. Anderson has instead opted to wait for the elusive super fight with longtime UFC welterweight title holder Georges St-Pierre.
While UFC President Dana White stated recently ,”what Anderson says doesn’t matter, the fight will be what it is,” it would seem the pendulum has swung the other way for White as he told Ariel Helwani last night that Weidman will need one more fight to get his crack at Silva.
The question remains as to who it will be that the Serra-Longo product faces next. The UFC is fortunate enough to where the cream of the middleweight division has finally risen to the top. Michael Bisping and Brian Stann are slated to meet later this month at UFC 152 and Weidman has already expressed an interest in facing the winner of that match-up. It’s a smart move on Weidman’s part considering that both men have the cache to elevate him into the number-one contender’s position. Tim Boetsch is still somewhere in the ether, and with his recent contentious win over Hector Lombard, is another strong option to face the New Yorker. Lastly, there is Alan Belcher who put up a career-defining upset against Rousimar Palhares as he beat the submission ace in his own realm. Currently injured, Belcher has stated that he too would like to meet Weidman upon his return to action.
There is no shortage of opposition to bring Chris Weidman to the next level, where he could actually secure a title shot as opposed to suffering yet another empty promise. In the eyes of nearly everyone, myself included, his performance against Munoz was enough. However, it’s becoming evident that what boxing has been criticized for over the past decade is now what’s happening to the UFC. The company is running low on stars and Weidman has yet to grab that brass ring in their eyes. Their handling of the surging prospect has not been great hitherto. Whether Zuffa can see it or not, the Hofstra wrestler is the future of the middleweight division. It remains to be seen whether or not he can topple the incumbent king who has ruled with an iron fist for six years, regardless of which, the ever-improving wrestler is more than likely bound to hover around the top of the weight class and has more years left in his career than the current face of the division. Weidman needs to pushed as a star and the UFC needs to put him in big fights on viable platforms if they don’t want their middleweight division to fall on dark days when Anderson Silva is gone.