What must a UFC champion do to earn an immediate rematch? It is a controversial question with no clear criteria. But Chris Weidman, who captured the UFC middleweight belt in 2013 by knocking out the legendary Anderson Silva, then defended it three times -- including a second win over Silva -- before forfeiting the title to Luke Rockhold last month with a brutal TKO loss at UFC 194, believes his résumé is good enough to warrant a crack at revenge against the only man to ever make him taste defeat.
"That's the fight I want," Weidman said Monday on The MMA Hour. "I'd say that's the fight I deserve, and that would be the biggest fight of my life.
"That trumps my Anderson Silva fights. That trumps my Lyoto Machida, my Vitor (Belfort) fights. It trumps everything. That's the biggest fight of my life. I'm going to be a completely different animal, motivated more than ever, and I'm going to go repay him for what he did to me. No personal vendetta. No emotion. Just competitively, just go out there and just completely demolish him."
Weidman and Rockhold were neck-and-neck going into the third round of UFC 194's co-main event, however any competitiveness in the bout ceased once Weidman missed a sloppy wheel kick attempt and Rockhold took his wearied foe to the canvas, eventually advancing into mount and crushing the champion with a harrowing salvo of unanswered punches and elbows which nearly ended the fight.
Weidman survived to be saved by the bell, but it didn't matter. Rockhold finished what he started and captured the middleweight title with a devastating series of strikes just minutes later, handing Weidman the first loss of an otherwise perfect professional career.
The assumed challenger for Rockhold's first title defense was intended to be decided the same night, as Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero took on Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza in a long-awaited No. 1 contenders fight on UFC 194's main card. Romero ultimately won via split decision, but the win was not without controversy -- just two of the 17 media scores recorded on MMA Decisions scored the fight for Romero -- and afterward, Rockhold appeared disinterested in a bout against the Cuban, instead declaring a desire to rematch the only man to defeat him in the UFC, Vitor Belfort.
Rockhold won't get his wish in that regard. He told FOX Sports last week that the UFC wants Belfort to win at least one more fight before being thrust back into the title picture. He did, however, open the door for an immediate rematch against Weidman, revealing that he has been told that Weidman has been "harassing" UFC officials since Dec. 13, the day after the fight, for a chance to run it back.
Rockhold said he would be open to the idea of a rematch, with a goal to "make a statement to where [Weidman] never wants to come back and fight me again."
Rockhold added that, as of last week, the list of his potential next opponents had been narrowed down to just Weidman and Romero, and on Monday, Weidman confirmed that he has been campaigning for his second shot since the morning after the fight.
"The next day -- Lorenzo (Fertitta) is such a great guy -- he came to my room and we hung out, just spent time, watched football and talked life," Weidman said. "I let him know right there and then that... that wasn't me in that cage that night. Anybody who knows me, anybody who's seen me train or has trained with me, anybody who has pretty much seen any of my fights, they know that something was off. And they're right. No excuses, he was the better man that night. But I'm going to be a completely different person when I step in there with him next time.
"That's all I'm focused on," Weidman added. "Right now, I'm training already. I'm just so hungry and determined and the only face I see is Luke Rockhold's."