Chris Weidman feels Whittaker deserves Adesanya fight over Vettori

Ahead of his middleweight clash against Uriah Hall at UFC 261 this Saturday, former champ Chris Weidman opens up on the return of fans, his strategies and more.

Chris Weidman is a former UFC middleweight champion who became the first man to beat the legendary Anderson Silva in the promotion.   -  UFC Media

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman feels his division's current titleholder Israel Adesanya should hand a shot to No. 1 contender Robert Whittaker next over the likes of No. 3-ranked Marvin Vettori.

Adesanya, who suffered the first loss of his career to Jan Blachowicz in a light heavyweight championship bout last month, has been hesitant to fight Whittaker in a rematch of their 2019 showdown at UFC 243, where the Nigerian claimed the belt.

Whittaker has since come out on top in three consecutive matchups against Darren Till, Jared Cannonier and most recently Kelvin Gastelum last weekend. Meanwhile, Vettori is on a five-fight winning streak, including this month's unanimous decision victory over Kevin Holland, since losing to Adesanya in April 2018.

 

"I think Whitaker deserves the next title shot. He won three fights in a row and looked amazing against Gastelum. Vettori fought Holland, who'd just lost three weeks prior, and there was kind of a playbook on how to beat him. But Vettori wasn't able to finish him. So, it wasn't spectacular. You can't be in title fights without spectacular performances," Weidman told Sportstar from Florida.

He then lauded Adesanya for being a dominant figure in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"Adesanya's stand-up is unique and dynamic. He does a wonderful job controlling his range with the kicks and punches and keeps his opponents at the end of it. However, he has weaknesses too. We saw a little bit in the Blachowicz fight where he was dominated with wrestling and jiu-jitsu. But standard wise, he's great," the 36-year-old mixed martial artist added.

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Weidman, currently the No. 11-ranked middleweight contender with a 15-5 MMA record, is set to fight the division's No. 9 Uriah Hall during UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville on Saturday. 

This pay-per-view will be the first UFC event to host a full capacity crowd in the coronavirus pandemic era. Around 15,000 fans will fill the stadium, and Weidman can't control his excitement. 

"I'm super excited to feel the energy of the fans again. To make that walk and hear my song is going to be amazing. I want to jump into the octagon and make everybody go nuts. I don't mind if I get booed or applauded. I just want to fight in front of fans," he said.

 

Weidman, who is the first man to defeat the legendary Anderson Silva in UFC, is confident about his chances against Hall. He's coming off a win over No. 13 Omari Akhmedov in August 2020 following five losses in his previous six encounters. On the other hand, Hall had defeated Silva in his most recent contest last October.

Weidman had earlier beaten Hall via technical knockout during a first-round finish at Ring of Combat 31 in 2010, and this rematch could take the winner closer to the middleweight title.

"I think the biggest disparity between us is the ground game. I'm definitely on a different level than Hall on the ground. So, if there's an option to take it to the ground, I'll take it there. But if I see him leaning back and if there's an option to knock him out, I'll do it just like last time," Weidman claimed.

"I think a win over Hall in spectacular fashion will get me a fight against somebody who's going to put me in title contention. I see myself winning this fight, one more, fighting the champion, defending the belt a few times, then retiring. After that, maybe finish a book," he signed off.