LAS VEGAS -- Better hop on the Chris Weidman bandwagon now or it's leaving without you.
Weidman retained his middleweight title by finishing Vitor Belfort by TKO in the first round Saturday night here at MGM Grand and then addressed all his detractors afterward.
"Hey, stop doubting me," Weidman shouted to the fans in an interview with Joe Rogan. "It's enough. Stop doubting me. You better join the team now. This is my last invitation. Join the team. I love you."
"I'm for real," Weidman said. "I felt that after the Machida fight there was a good group of people that started following and there was believers. But with the time off, the haters just grew stronger and stronger, so I had to just come in here and do my thing again."
He certainly did. Belfort caught Weidman early with some big punches. During a flurry against the cage, it seemed like Weidman might have been in trouble. He wasn't. The former All-American college wrestler shook it off, took Belfort down and easily slipped into a dominant position.
Weidman (13-0) by ground-and-pound TKO was basically academic at that point with Belfort seemingly out of gas.
"He caught me with an uppercut and I was like, I probably should move out of here, this is not smart," Weidman said. "And then as soon as I got out, I felt his punches get a little slower. I knew he's gonna break before I break. It was fine."
Weidman, 30, will now likely take a break until December with the hopes that MMA gets legalized in his home state of New York. The plan is for his next title shot to be at Madison Square Garden and the UFC has scheduled a Dec. 6 date for the venue if the MMA bill passes through the state legislature. Luke Rockhold is likely the next opponent, but Ronaldo Souza could also emerge.
"I'm not missing the Madison Square Garden fight, that's for sure," Weidman said. "That's all I really care about. Asking about 'Jacare' or Rockhold, honestly it doesn't matter. I want to fight either one of them, but in Madison Square Garden. As long as I'm in that venue, I'm a happy man. That's a dream."
He'll surely have a ton of support there, just about 30 minutes from where he grew up in Baldwin. Weidman has dealt with the hate of Brazilian fans, because he's beaten their idols and also the wrath of fickle critics who have plastered him for recent injury issues.
While Weidman was a huge favorite heading into Saturday night, he felt fans weren't giving him the proper respect.
"Vegas always has my back," he said of sports books. "That's why all my friends can't make that much money on me from Anderson Silva fights all the way until now. They're always pretty smart. But the general public, Twitter, just in general, I feel like I've done a lot so far -- I've beaten Anderson Silva twice, Lyoto Machida and now Vitor Belfort. I think people gotta start realizing something."