UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman comes off as a levelheaded, no-nonsense guy. So it should come as no surprise that he didn't mince his words when talking about his expected next title challenger, Vitor Belfort, and his career resurgence under the use testosterone replacement therapy.
"I don't think TRT belongs in the sport, where it's a combat sport," Weidman said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
"How old is Vitor, 36?" Weidman asked later. "And now you're allowed to have a 17-year-old's testosterone?"
The champion knows he'll be asked about Belfort and TRT from now until the fight, which is expected to go down on either the Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July weekend Las Vegas events. But the way the champ sees it, he doesn't mind, because Belfort was the one who got busted for steroids, not him.
"It's more a cloud for him," Weidman said. "He's the one who got caught cheating once. Now he's taking TRT and I don't think it's right. I did hear from other TRT users, not to mention names, but I've heard TRT is a good way to cover up other things. I don't know much about the business that these guys are in, but, that doesn't seem cool to me, for a guy who's not taking anything."
The Belfort issue is proof that the Long Island native isn't going to disappear from the news anytime soon after UFC 168, when he defeated Anderson Silva for the second time in 2013. For his part, Weidman said he did not realize the true extent of the former champion's leg injury until the day after the fight.
"I didn't understand the severity until maybe the next day, it didn't really click," Weidman said. "I've checked leg kicks, I know guys get hurt when you check the leg kick the right way, especially the way he throws it, really hard with the lower part of his shin on my knee. At the time I just knew he was hurt. I know something happened where he fell. I didn't know if his ankle got hurt or something, but I didn't know his leg snapped in two pieces, that's for sure."
The champ says he hopes the man he twice vanquished is able to return to the Octagon, but says it will be a tough mental road.
"I do want to see him come back, but it would be a very hard transition," Weidman said. "Physically it's going to be tough, but it might be more a mental thing that will be a bigger struggle for him. If you put yourself in his shoes, he was known as the greatest of all time, I still think he should be known as the greatest of all-time. ... He got knocked out the first fight by me, he never got knocked out before. Then the second fight, gets dropped in the first round, then he breaks leg on me when he's known as a as kicker. It's going to be tough for him, I wish him the best, I want him to come back and do great things."
That said, by defeating Silva a second time after knocking him out in July, Weidman feels he no longer has to answer to people who called his win a fluke.
"I'm never going to win over the respect of certain people and I can tell you one thing," Weidman said. "After the first fight I felt like needed to prove even to myself that I'm better than him. He started showboating, even though he had done that before, when I knocked him out I surprised myself. But after both fights now, being in the past I can for sure tell you for sure I'm the better fighter. I'm completely comfortable knowing I won both fights."
As to whether Weidman deserves to be named Fighter of the Year?
"I didn't think about it until afterwards, when people were telling me I was getting nominated, and I honestly don't know all the accomplishments of everyone else who is up for it," Weidman said. "But I think beating greatest of all-time twice, a guy who no one thought could ever be beaten, is definitely 2013 Fighter of the Year-worthy."
After taking some time off following the Silva fight, Weidman's finding himself busy again. He and coach Ray Longo are opening a new gym in Garden City, N.Y., and Weidman plans on having his knee checked by a doctor soon.
Assuming he gets the go ahead from the doctor, the Belfort fight should happen sooner rather than later. When push comes to shove, though, Weidman says he's ready to fight Belfort, TRT or no.
"I feel like I'm on another level than him," Weidman said. "I think it's a great fight for me. I think I can beat him no matter what he's done. It's more legit if I'm beating up a juicer, if that's what you want to consider him."