Chris Weidman was able to notch his first win in three years, but even he acknowledges it wasn’t his best work.
The former UFC middleweight king prevailed by unanimous decision over Omari Akhmedov in Saturday’s UFC Vegas 6 co-main event, but Weidman’s performance scarcely resembled his championship days. It looked as if Weidman was totally exhausted through two rounds, but in the final frame and effectively wrestled and outgrappled Akhmedov to get the nod on the scorecards.
In the ESPN+ post-fight interview with Megan Olivi, Weidman detailed how he felt in the cage and what he did differently to get his hand raised, but also admitted it wasn’t exactly his best work...
“A lot of my fights in the past, I’m winning on the feet and then I got caught trying to go for it, being exciting,” Weidman said (via MMA Fighting). “So the goal was try to get to my bread and butter this time as much as possible.
“It was just such a weird fight. It was so sloppy. Every time I got to his legs, I was like a little bit off, a little bit too low on the leg or a little bit too high. The weight was off. It turned into a sloppy fight. But it came down to that third round, I was able to dig deep and come up with the ‘W.’
“It was a scrappy fight. I’m just happy to get back inside the octagon and find a way to win. He was strong as hell. He’s a scrappy guy. He hasn’t lost in six fights. It was good to get out there and start over again in the middleweight division.”
Weidman, as he was well aware of pre-fight, was 1-5 over his last six fights entering the Akhmedov bout — every defeat by knockout or TKO. Akhmedov came in as the #11 ranked middleweight contender, so Weidman’s return to 185 after a light heavyweight KO loss to Dominick Reyes will see him return to the rankings.
By getting a win, however “sloppy” it may have been, Weidman says he’s “excited to get in there with some of these top tier guys at middleweight and really start making a statement.” Whether a top tier guy is next remains to be seen, but he believes his mindset has gotten him through tough times and he’s on the road to the top once again.
“Damn right I’m a champion,” Weidman said. “I’ve been through so much damn adversity, I’ve had so much critiqued on me. From being the undefeated world champion to never really getting the love or the respect I feel I deserved when I was on top and then finally getting knocked down and then everybody jumping on top, trying to kick me while I was down.
“To overcome that is a championship mindset. A big part of me pushing through and continuing to do what I do and with the confidence I have is to help inspire other people. Life is not going to turn out the way you want all the time. You’ve got to be able to push through ,and ‘F’ the doubters and just believe in yourself. I’m not done showing the world what I’m capable of. In those moments, just don’t back down. Don’t quit and just keep moving forward.”