When 2012 began, UFC middleweight Chris Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) was considered a bright prospect with ample potential.
Mark Munozin the headliner of Wednesday UFC on FUEL TV 4 event, "The All American" is now a bona fide contender, and he's certain if given the chance, he could take out the division's longtime kingpin, Anderson Silva.
Anderson Silvahas been through 15 guys," Weidman said at Wednesday's post-event press conference. "All those 15 guys tried to take him down, hold him down, tried to submit him. It's not going to be easy. Chael Sonnen is that good, but he was able to get him down in every fight and put him in that position. I'm going to follow that blueprint.
"I've got the length with
Anderson Silva, so he's not going to be able to play on the outside much with me. If he comes in, my takedowns are pretty good. I'll take him down. I think, I really do believe, that I could submit him and finish him. I really think I can."
It's a bold claim for the 28-year-old just nine fights into his UFC career. But UFC president Dana White didn't find Weidman's thoughts to be out of line.
"He looked damn good tonight," White said. "If you ask anybody out there, I think pretty much everybody had Munoz No. 3 in the world. Weidman absolutely destroyed him tonight."
Weidman was actually the oddsmakers' favorite heading into that matchup, but even those that expected the Serra-Longo Fight Team product to win didn't necessarily envision such a lopsided victory. Weidman outgrappled Munoz in the first round before blasting him with a crisp counter elbow in the second and finishing him off with a vicious barrage of punches.
But Weidman said he knew domination was possible – and necessary.
"I have a great coaching staff, great training partners, and I did believe I could come in here and dominate the fight," Weidman said. "A lot of people before this were asking me if I thought I deserved the title, and I was like, 'I don't want to be one of those guys who just calls out
Anderson Silva.' I mean, there's like six of them right now doing it, and now I'm that guy, too. But I wanted to make a statement in this fight and make it obvious to everybody that I'm ahead of the pack."
Silva fought this past weekend, where he downed his nemesis, Chael Sonnen, in the second round of what White has called the biggest fight in company history. Sonnen helped his cause with an unrivaled onslaught of cutting trashtalk, but Weidman isn't going to try and follow the same path.
"I'm a pretty laid-back guy," Weidman told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "My wife wouldn't say I am, but I think I am. I don't know. I can't pull a Chael Sonnen. That guy is a gifted man on the mic. I couldn't even pretend to be that guy. I'd love to be that guy, but I'm just going to be myself, and I'm going to try to make it happen in the cage.
"This is five straight in the UFC. I beat two top-five guys. I feel like I did put my duties in. I know I'm just 9-0, but I really believe I'm ready, and I'm going to go after
Anderson Silvaand get that shot."
White previously said that former Bellator champ Hector Lombard, who makes his UFC debut at next week's UFC 149 event, was the frontrunner in the middleweight division's contendership order. However, after witnessing Weidman's now-signature victory over Munoz, the UFC boss seemed to think the company's newest middleweight star may indeed be ready for "The Spider."
"Hector Lombard is a guy who's going to fight in his first UFC fight next Saturday," White said. "We'll see how he does. We'll see what happens because I can guarantee you if you talked to 100 people, none of them would have told you that they thought the fight was going to go this way tonight.
"The 185-pound division just got very interesting. We'll see what happens."