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Chris Weidman wants a Bob Sapp fight: ‘I’ll go up to heavyweight for that’

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The former UFC champion is getting ready to face Jacare Souza in the co-main event of UFC 230. But there’s a bigger fight out on the horizon that it sounds like he’s got his sights set on.

Sometimes it’s all about building a fighter’s confidence. Following his UFC 230 open workout, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman spoke in detail to the assembled media about what it’s like to fight coming off a win following his 3-fight losing streak between December 2015 & April 2017.

Weidman picked up a submission over Kelvin Gastelum in July of last year. And although he’s been plagued by an injured thumb in the 15 months since, he’s back healthy and still feels like he’s in a much better place for having won his last fight.

“I went from the highest of highs,” Weidman recalled of his losing streak, “beating Anderson Silva – you know, I was 9-0 fighting him, the greatest of all time. Beat him twice, defended my belt three times, undefeated, undisputed. One of the few guys to ever do it. It was the highest of highs. And then to hit the lowest of lows three fights in a row? It affects your confidence. And confidence is everything in this game.

“Going into the Gastelum fight, it was mentally draining to keep that confidence up,” the Team Serra-Longo talent admitted. “Because the reality is, my hand didn’t get raised three times in a row. You have all the doubters and naysayers. You hear them, you try to silence them. But, it’s work to do that mentally. So it was a mental battle leading up to that fight. And I just had to realize, that every one of those fights was a different situation.

“In the Luke fight, I was winning,” Weidman explained. “I knew things that happened before the fight, I just... And each one of those fights; the Romero fight I was winning. These were all fights I was capable of winning. And it didn’t work out for me. I ended up... Things went wrong. I tried to look at each one of those individual fights and realize that just because they compounded as three, that doesn’t define me as a bad fighter or anything like that.

“Thank God I was able to persevere and come out of all that adversity on the other side, and get a win over Gastelum. And finish Gastelum – only person to ever finish him. He’s a tough dude. And then I hit adversity again with my thumb; two thumb surgeries. And we’re back, we’re back again. But, coming off a win, it feels way better to be honest. Because you already know. You’re not questioning yourself as much. You don’t question yourself. It’s just, I already know what I’m capable of.“

Still, you can never have too much of a good thing. Maybe that’s why, when asked what other fighter Weidman would like to see the UFC ‘trade’ for – in the wake of the promotion’s recent release/sign handshake deal with ONE Championship, letting go of Demetrious Johnson to sign Ben Askren – Weidman had an unusual bout on his mind.

“Bob Sapp. Me and Bob Sapp have a problem, “Weidman deadpanned. “We ran into each other at an event and he eyed me down. And I made him flinch. Nah, I’m just kidding, there’s no problem. But hey, Bob Sapp, bring him in!

“Yeah, I’ll take Bob Sapp,” he continued. “Bob Sapp seems like a tough fight.”

“I’ll go up to heavyweight for that.”

“MSG, Weidman/Bob Sapp. That thing would sell. That would be crazy. I’m in, I’m buying the ticket.”

In the meantime, the ‘All-America’ has a much less forgiving challenge in front of him, in the form of Brazilian top contender and BJJ legend Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. Jacare is coming off his own hotly contested split decision loss to Gastelum, having KO’d Derek Brunson back in January of 2018. If Weidman can pick up a win this Saturday at Madison Square Garden, he may punch himself a ticket to a middleweight title fight against Robert Whittaker. A loss, and maybe he’ll have to keep campaigning for that Sapp fight.