Known for conquering the once-unconquerable Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman is no longer the fighter he was during his nearly two-year reign as the UFC’s middleweight champion, and heading into his meeting with veteran contender Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 on April 8th in Buffalo, “The All-American” is in serious need of a statement-making win.
We thought, or maybe just hoped, that we’d finally see the old Weidman when he stepped into the Octagon to face Yoel Romero at last November’s UFC 205. But Romero simply wasn’t having it, ending the fight with a vicious, knockout-victory in the fourth round of a middleweight melee that left Weidman bloodied and undeniably beaten.
Since, Weidman’s stock has dropped even further down the UFC’s middleweight exchange. In a Rocky Balboa-like twist of UFC fate, the division has belonged to 38-year old Michael Bisping since last June—a middleweight who wasn’t even thought of as a legitimate threat to Weidman during his time at the top. And aside from Romero, and possibly former champ Luke Rockhold, the weight class that was once so incredibly entertaining is now starving for proven star-power.
But it isn’t just the fact that Weidman has lost each of his last two fights, it’s the way he’s lost. At UFC 194 in December of 2015, Rockhold took Weidman’s belt by laying an unforgettable beating on the then-undefeated up-stater in a fight that probably should’ve been stopped before veteran ref Herb Dean had finally seen enough. Since eating Romero’s knee, some folks have even suggested that it’s time for Weidman to start fighting a few of the UFC’s lesser-known middleweights in an attempt to rebuild his confidence.
While Mousasi isn’t a household name, and has been under appreciated by the masses for far too long, he is one of the more experienced middleweight contenders. But let’s be honest, he won’t present Weidman with the same type of test he faced against Silva, Vitor Belfort, and Lyoto Machida while they were at least at or near their prime. Nevertheless, a win over Mousasi—especially in front of what will amount to his home crowd in Buffalo, would still give Weidman what he needs to remain relevant in the promotion’s murky middleweight title picture.
Understandably, Weidman was never interested in taking a tour of the UFC’s middleweight basement, and shortly after his upcoming fight with Mousasi was announced in late January, the former 185-pound king told “The MMA Hour” exactly that.
“I want to get that belt back and fighting the toughest guys in the division is the way to do that,” said Weidman. “I don’t take that last loss and think ‘I need to beat some guys who aren’t on my level to get my confidence back.’ I know exactly what I did wrong and what I have to do differently, so I don’t need to fight any guys to get my confidence level up. I’m just as confident as I was. I feel like Mousasi is a great fight for me to get back on my winning ways and get close to fighting for the title again.”
“I want the best guys, I want the guys that……I mean, when have I ever fought a guy who wasn’t a top guy? And Mousasi would be almost a step down from the level of guys I’ve been fighting,” said Weidman.
With Weidman’s history of ill-timed injuries, you can’t blame those who’ve chosen to take the “I’ll believe when I see it” approach to his fights. But injuries aren’t Weidman’s biggest problem right now, and a third straight loss on April 8th would definitely knock the former champion further down the middleweight rankings and possibly out of the division’s title discussion for good.
Conor McGregor Charged with Assault for Dublin Incident
Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor has been charged with assault for punching a man in a bar in Dublin, Ireland back in April, that carries a maximum prison term of six months if convicted, a fine of $1,646, or both, according to the Independent.
McGregor’s spokesperson Karen Kessler confirmed that McGregor was formally served with a summons and is due in a Dublin court on October 11th, in a conversation with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
McGregor expressed remorse for the incident back in August, during an interview with ESPN.
“I was in the wrong,” McGregor said, at the time. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. … I tried to make amends, and I made amends back then. But it doesn’t matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am. That’s not the reason why I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario.”
“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am,” McGregor continued. “And that’s what I will do.”
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UFC’s Stipe Miocic Likely Out for Year
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic is considered to be “highly unlikely” to compete again for the remainder of 2019 after the fighter suffered an eye injury during his fight with Daniel Cormier back in August, Miocic’s agent said, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Miocic (19-3) knocked out Cormier to reclaim the heavyweight title during the fourth round of their rematch at UFC 241, and there had been interest in a 3rd fight between Cormier and Miocic, potentially taking place at UFC 245 on December 14th in Las Vegas, however Miocic says that he is still recovering from a procedure that was done on his retina.
“I’ll be ready to fight when I can see out of both eyes again,” Miocic said in a statement to ESPN. “I can’t wait to defend my belt.”
According to Miocic’s agent, Jim Walter, the eye injury occurred when Cormier accidentally poked Miocic in the eye during the fight at UFC 241.
Miocic had complained of eye pokes during both of his fights against Cormier.
“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” said Walter, of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment. “Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”
Cormier, 40, recently stated his desire to put off retirement to fight Miocic a third time.
“I’m gonna fight this guy again,” Cormier said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week. “My intention is to fight him in the right way. … It has to be against Stipe, no one else matters.”
Dana White: BJ Penn Won’t Fight in UFC Again
UFC president Dana White says that BJ Penn won’t be fighting in the UFC again after a pair of videos surfaced online showing Penn fighting in the streets while in Hawaii.
Penn (16-14-2), 40, was expected to fight Nik Lentz before the end of the year, but White says that plans to make that fight happen are now off following the videos going viral.
“He won’t fight again, that’s it,” White said, according to Brett Okamoto. “That’s a wrap. It’s not even that this was the last straw. I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway, but with the relationship that he and I have — he gets me on the phone, begging me for another fight. It’s hard to turn him down.
“After what I saw in that video, BJ needs to, you know, he needs to focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting.”
Penn, who will not face any charges for the incidents, and his representatives have since said he was trying to diffuse the situation and ultimately acted in self-defense.
“I don’t want to sit here and pick BJ Penn apart,” White said. “I think we all know what BJ Penn needs to do and hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do. What I saw in that video was sad and I love the kid. I hope he gets his life together. If BJ Penn needs me, all he has to do is pick up the phone and ask.”
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