“I don’t think that anyone can argue that Chris Weidman earned his number one contender spot tonight.”- Ariel Helwani
Sorry, Ariel, but I’m about to debunk your theory.
Before I start, I want you (the reader) to understand that this is by no means an “anti- Weidman” article. Quite the contrary. Weidman looked amazing in his destruction of Mark Munoz, and his accomplishments at this point of his career are amazing. At this point, however, I want to refer back to Chong Li from Bloodsport, when he said “Brick not hit back.”
I believe that the dominance that a victor displays is an equal part talent, and the ability of his opponent. Take any Joe off the street, place him in front of a heavy bag, and he will be dominating. Place him in the ring with a trained fighter, and the results will differ, greatly. The same thing can be said of Weidman vs. Munoz.
Despite the clamoring for Munoz to get a crack at the title (before this fight, of course), I have never viewed him as a true contender for the strap. Let’s take a moment and look at the respective records of each fighter. Of the opponents that Munoz has faced, is there anyone that can be considered a top contender? Many will argue for Yushin Okami and Demian Maia, but I disagree.
Okami vs. Silva didn’t happen because Okami was a legitimate threat; it happened because the fight was marketable. Maia, on the other hand, was KO’d by Nate Marquardt, rebounded with a win against Dan Miller, and then was given a shot at the title. This was basically a “busy work” fight for the champ, who toyed with Maia the entire bout, not even taking him seriously. If you turn your ears away from the powerhouse that is the UFC marketing machine, you’ll see that Munoz is a mid-tier fighter.
None of this is meant to take anything away from Weidman. This guy has amazing ability and potential. The fact of the matter, however, is that his 9-0 record consists of locals, cans, and bottom/ mid-tier UFC fighters. And now people want to put him in with the greatest fighter of all time?
Even light heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones was brought along slower, dominating seven fights before being given a shot at the title. Furthermore, Jones was only given the shot because Rashad Evans injured himself preparing for the title fight against Mauricio Rua and had to withdraw, leaving the UFC in need of a replacement.
I can not stress enough how impressed I am by Weidman. He definitely has the ability to become a champion. I feel that he deserves the chance to grow into the role, however, instead of being fed to a meat-grinder now.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC