After suffering four losses in his last five outings, Chris Weidman is headed up to Light Heavyweight.
A former UFC Middleweight Champion, Weidman famously dethroned Anderson Silva in 2013 and then defended his title three times afterwards. However, after losing the belt to Luke Rockhold, Weidman has since struggled, falling victim to multiple stoppage losses against some of the division's finest fighters. Weidman did defeat Kelvin Gastelum in July 2017 though and has remained immensely competitive throughout.
Regardless, he's now changing weight class, announcing the move to Light Heavyweight on Ariel Helwani's ESPN Radio show this past weekend. He later explained the decision in more detail, speaking to media at UFC 238. “I’ve accomplished my goals at (1)85," he said. "I had that belt wrapped around me four different times. I really wanted to get it back and I’m not saying the door’s completely shut on that idea.
"I’m not saying I can’t get down to (1)85 but the weight cuts are tough and I want to kinda see what my body is like without depleting itself. So I won’t be the biggest 205 pounder, that’s definitely for sure but I don’t think I’ll be the smallest, and I think I bring things to the table that could be an issue for a lot of those guys.”
Weidman's move is far from unprecedented, with former Middleweights Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos recently achieving far more success after moving up to 205 lbs. While encouraged by their form, Weidman doesn't point to that as a leading factor in his decision. “Maybe a little bit but not it's not because of that. You see guys from (1)85 come up and do really well. You know, definitely gives you a little bit more confidence with the move but it’s not something I was focused on.”
This isn't the first time Weidman has discussed a potential jump up in weight, reminding the media of his initial plans to make the move years prior. “I always wanted to go up to 205. The goal, when everything was good, when I was undefeated and the champ of the world, the goal was to defend my belt a few times at (1)85, go up to 205 and beat Jon Jones. That was always the goal and then things changed. You gotta reevaluate your goals and now I’m going up to 205."
With that in mind, Weidman's list of potential opponents is often shifting, with a rematch against Luke Rockhold seemingly remaining a constant. The pair's second bout has never come to fruition but now at 205 lbs, suddenly seems possible again. “Absolutely, definitely a fight that could happen. I’ve had a few losses but the first one is always the one that you look back to. So that’s one I’d love a rematch in. I don’t know if that’s gonna be my first fight at 205, but at some point I see us crossing paths again.”
Regardless, Weidman is focused on his own future, moving up to Light Heavyweight with confidence and even citing his own experience in training. “I’ve worked with 205 pounders before and I never really like a disadvantage so why not? I feel good up there, I feel it might be where I feel best.”