Just three years into his professional fight career, Chris Weidman believes he's ready to fight the man that many consider to be the greatest in mixed martial arts history. After steamrolling Mark Munoz in the main event of UFC on FUEL 4, the fast-rising Weidman took advantage of the wide open middleweight field, issuing a challenge to current champion Anderson Silva.
"I want Anderson Silva," he said. "Every time I've had a full training camp, I've gotten a finish. Every single time. Give me a full training camp, and I'd love a shot at the man, Anderson Silva. I really think I could do pretty good. So give me a shot, please."
Weidman (9-0) has won five straight in the UFC, including three by stoppage. And to him, that resume puts him in the running for a shot against the long-reigning champion.
"I beat two top five guys, Demian Maia was fifth, and now [Munoz] was third, so I feel like I put my dues in," he said. "I know I'm just 9-0 but I really believe I’m ready. I’m going to go after Anderson Silva if I get that shot. I really am."
Weidman promised to follow the same aggressive route he's taken in his fights thus far, and that he would try to finish Silva on the ground. Against Munoz, it was a standing elbow strike which rocked Munoz, and ground punches that put him out. But Weidman showed a dynamic ground game to go with his accurate takedowns as well. Overall, it was a well-rounded performance that convinced some he's worthy of leapfrogging the division.
UFC president Dana White, though? Well, he's not so sure.
Sure, White was impressed by Weidman's win -- "blown away," in his own words, but he declined to speculate on whether the New Yorker would get elevated into a title match so quickly.
Truth be told, there aren't a lot of options either ahead of him or aside him. After Silva beat Chael Sonnen for a second time at last weekend's UFC 148, he's exhausted many challengers, leaving only names like Weidman, Hector Lombard, Tim Boetsch, Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher among existing middleweights even in the conversation.
"Who knows who’s ready for a guy like Anderson, you know what I mean? Everybody was saying before the fight that Mark Munoz had the style," White said on the UFC on FUEL 4 post-fight show in an interview with Ariel Helwani. "He could double leg him, put him against the fence and actually do incredible damage up against the cage like Munoz does. Tonight, Weidman was that guy."
Regardless, it seems like Weidman is destined to fight a big-time fight his next time out. As White noted, there's no slowing him down now, not after accomplishing so much in such little time.
"I think a fight against Munoz wasn't moving him too slow," he said. "He fought Demian Maia and Munoz in his first five fights in the UFC. That's the thing about the UFC. Nobody really gets moved slow. You’re always fighting the toughest guys in the world.
But there's a difference between fighting the "toughest guys in the world" and fighting the best one. And Weidman wants Silva.
"As soon as he comes in, you know, my takedowns are pretty good. I'll get him down, and I think, I really do believe, that I can submit him," he said. "I really think I can."