With Khamzat Chimaev now having gotten the type of opponent he was asking for when he faces number three welterweight Leon Edwards in December, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman says that he was close to securing a fight with the Chechen-born rising star before injury got in the way.
Weidman, who was last seen in the cage defeating Omari Akhmedov in August, penned a social media message in recent weeks in which he called out the surging Chimaev, author of three victories in his first 66 days with the UFC — a company record.
And instead of Edwards in the welterweight division, Chimaev was close to another middleweight bout before a niggling rib injury experienced by the New Yorker laid waste to those plans.
“They offered me Chimaev. I said yes,” Weidman said to Submission Radio. “Then I started getting really excited about it, and then I said, ‘Well, so I’ve got a little bit of a rib injury right now – a cartilage rib injury.’ And if you’re anybody who’s had that, it’s just a pain in the ass.
“You’ve got to be really careful with not re-injuring it or bothering it. So I’ve kind of got to work around that right now. So I told them, ‘I’m down to fight whoever at mid-January, but I really want that Chimaev fight,’ just because of everyone acting as if everyone is scared of him and all that. And to me, I always want to fight the best guys. And so if everybody thinks he’s that good, let’s see it.
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“I have a hard time imagining anybody throwing me around. In any of my losses, it wasn’t like a dominant win. It was holy crap, out of nowhere, and fights that I was winning, other than my (Dominick) Reyes fight. And so I just have a hard time seeing anybody manhandling me and throwing me around. I just can’t imagine that happening. I would love to see that if that’s what everybody thinks that he could do. So that kind of excited me. But next thing I know, he’s fighting the No. 3 guy at welterweight.”
Weidman suggests that if Chimaev is victorious against Edwards then the fight would still interest him. But if he loses? The mystique is gone, Weidman says.
“Most likely, if he loses his next fight, the interest would just be completely gone – especially a guy with his record, with his experience level, which is really not much,” Weidman said. “The reason why I was taking that fight was because there was so much hype behind him and so many people thought he was really good. But if he was to lose and be exposed by Leon Edwards, what’s the purpose of me fighting him?”