On Saturday night, former UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman (15-5), successfully returned to the middleweight division. After a one fight stint at light heavyweight, the former champion returned to face Omari Akhmedov (20-5-1).
Akhmedov entered the contest ranked 11th in the division. He hadn’t lost a UFC contest since April of 2016. Akhmedov has a tendency to make fights ugly. Many people didn’t know what to expect when Weidman would face him.
Weidman had his back up against a wall. The former champion was no longer a ranked fighter after going 1-5 in his previous six contest. He was finished in all five of those losses.
The All American showed up Saturday night and proved that he can still win at this level. It was an ugly fight, but Weidman got a much needed victory in the UFC. He took time after the fight to announce that he was back.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 9, 2020
What’s next for the former UFC champ?
Weidman made it clear to the top tier guys that he was coming back, but acknowledge his performance wasn’t the best in his post-fight interview. The former champion will definitely have a number by his name when the new UFC rankings are released.
So what does the UFC do with Weidman? While I understand his desire to call out the top guys, he needs to earn those fights with consistent wins. A win over Akhmedov is a step in the right direction, but Weidman really needs to continue to prove himself.
The question becomes, who do you put him in there with? In looking at the rankings, there aren’t a ton of options. I wouldn’t have him fight Gastelum again, and he’s not going to get a shot against guys like Brunson or Hermansson.
I know this would technically be a step backwards in the rankings, but I would have him take on a guy like Marvin Vettori (15-4-1) next. The Italian Dream needs a fight and the UFC is having trouble finding him an opponent.
He’s won three fights in a row and he last lost a very competitive decision to the current champion. If Weidman fights and beats Vettori, you can move him up to a top five opponent given a two fight winning streak and his history.
On the other hand, if Vettori wins, you have a very exciting contender who will be coming off of the biggest win of his career. Not sure the UFC will go this way, but that’s my idea. I think Weidman shouldn’t be rushed. Give him one more guy outside the top tier before throwing him to the wolves.