Four years ago to the month, Chris Weidman shocked the MMA world by putting Anderson Silva to sleep to capture the UFC middleweight crown.
Weidman followed up the “fluke” victory by snapping Silva’s shin in two in their immediate rematch five months later. Weidman had bumped his professional record to a perfect 11-0, with his last two wins coming against the man most considered as the game’s GOAT, and he was just entering the prime of his career at the age of 29.
“All-American” followed that up by posting a pair of victories over former UFC champs in Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort.
It seemed as though Weidman had the world at his fingertips, with talk of a superfight against then-UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones serving as the main event in the UFC’s long awaited debut inside New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.
Fast forward just 48 short months and Weidman’s UFC career is in serious jeopardy. The now-33-year-old has dropped three straight scraps, all via some form of knockout, to the division’s top dogs.
Most UFC fighters would have been handed their walking papers at this point, but Weidman was granted a reprieve and will actually headline Saturday’s FOX card against Kelvin Gastelum. The fact that the event takes place in Long Island certainly helped the New Yorker’s plight.
If Gastelum makes weight and doesn’t test positive for marijuana and beats Weidman, it could very well spell the end of Weidman’s UFC career. It doesn’t help Weidman’s cause that his last disclosed salary was a hefty $275,000 three fights ago.
Speaking of money and fat paychecks, it also doesn’t help Weidman that he sidestep UFC president Dana White and his take-it-or-leave-it offer to work with then-UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to iron out a contract extension right before getting knocked out cold by Yoel Romero two fights ago.
Fertitta has since since left the company, but guess whose UFC business card still reads “PRESIDENT”? But White’s not one to hold grudges, though, right?
So that’s the corner Weidman is now backed into. Gastelum is as big of a must-win as it gets. A convincing loss to the 25-year-old would most certainly seal Weidman’s fate, as the UFC would then have a younger and cheaper American to put their marketing efforts behind.