Chris Weidman confident fans will view him as challenge for Israel Adesanya after comeback fight: ‘They’ll believe’



UFC 268: Usman v Covington 2
Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC

Chris Weidman still has a championship fight in his sights.

Almost a decade ago, Weidman became the UFC’s middleweight champion with a shocking upset knockout of Anderson Silva, a finish that ended Silva’s six-year title reign. Weidman successfully defended the title three times, but has fallen on hard times since, losing six of his past eight fights including a brutal injury stoppage due to a broken leg in April 2021 that has cost him the two years of his career.

Weidman’s comeback fight sees him face Brad Tavares on Aug. 19 at UFC 292 in Boston, and the former champ is seeing this as more than just a one-off opportunity. In fact, if all goes well for the 38-year-old, he expects that fans will once again view him as a contender and a legitimate threat to current middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya.

“Listen, that’s the dream,” Weidman said on The MMA Hour. “No one [on the active roster has] accomplished what I’ve accomplished in the middleweight division besides Israel Adesanya as far as title defenses and all that. I love that matchup. I think once people see me back out there and see that I’m not this old bum at this point, and they see that I have some serious threats to bring to the table, I believe I’m a really bad matchup for him.

“But I have to prove that, and so until then I’ll shut my mouth and just go out there and prove it against Brad Tavares. I think they’ll see enough in that fight where they’ll believe.”

Weidman has endured a grueling road to recovery, with two surgeries required to address his leg injuries surrounded by months of rehab. Even prior to his ill-fated fight with Hall, Weidman’s poor results pushed him further and further from the contenders’ circle as he was knocked out by the likes of Dominick Reyes, Ronaldo Souza, and Gegard Mousasi.

Regardless of whether he competes for UFC gold again, Weidman is keeping things in perspective; a perspective that was refreshed by his time out of the spotlight.

“With this much time off, I’ve kind of seen what it’s like to not be a fighter anymore,” Weidman said. “Less people talking about you, you’re not as relevant anymore, less people recognizing you, you kind of see a little bit of what it’s going to be like after fighting. At the end of the day, we’re all dust; at the end of the day, we’re all not going to turn to nothing and people are going to forget you at some point in time.

“But it was good to see it play out a little bit with this time off, because the comeback, I’m not taking it for granted. I’m coming back and fighting for the UFC and I’m excited to make the most of it and enjoy the remainder of my career as much as I possibly can.”

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