Weidman suffered a bloody defeat at the hands of Yoel Romero at the UFC's historic entry into New York, succumbing to a flying knee knockout just 24 seconds into the third round on the event's pay-per-view card. Speaking on Monday for the first time since the loss, Weidman said his gameplan for the fight was to wrestle with Romero and gradually drain Romero's suspect gas tank.
After competing in two back-and-forth rounds, Weidman said he felt strong going into the third and believed Romero to be fading, but things changed as soon as he shot for an ill-fated takedown.
"I just felt like there's no way I'm losing. If I win this third round, it's over," Weidman explained on The MMA Hour. "And I shot a takedown. If you watch, if you're a technical person in the MMA game, when you fight a southpaw, you always put your head to the side of his front leg. You never go to the back leg. And every one of my takedowns I hit on him in the fight was to his front leg, my head to the outside of his front leg, which stays away from the danger of a knee or a heavy left hand. And the one time I shot to the wrong side, which I drilled a million times not to do, he came up with that knee."
In a gruesome sight, Romero's flying knee sent Weidman crashing to the canvas as blood poured from the side of his head and referee Mario Yamasaki rushed to stop the contest. Weidman ended up getting 10 stitches in his head -- three from his own knee smashing into his eye during the fall -- though luckily for Weidman, an on-site neurologist cleared him of any concussion worries and the 32-year-old former champion was permitted to leave Madison Square Garden under his own power and without going to the hospital.
The loss marked the second straight defeat for the previously undefeated Weidman and was every bit as devastating as the UFC 194 setback to Luke Rockhold that forced Weidman to hand over his UFC middleweight title. And to make matters worse for Weidman, it came in front of his hometown fans in New York during a blockbuster event that was effectively built on the back of years of legwork from UFC athletes and lobbyists like Weidman, who fought to get mixed martial arts legalized in the Empire State.
"I thought I was on my way to winning the fight, and one mistake is all it takes, and that's the beauty of this game," Weidman said. "That's why everybody loves to tune in and watch these fights, because at any given moment, any given fight, any given fighters, anything can happen. A fighter could win nine out of 10 times, but there's always that one time. I'm not saying that's me and Yoel, but it's just, that's what makes this sport beautiful.
"I was on the tough side of it that night. UFC 205 was the first fight ever in New York. It was a dream come true for me, and obviously I was definitely hurt after the fight as far as my feelings. I was upset, but I realized the blessings -- just being a part of that event really was a dream come true, minus losing. The walkout, even fighting, I had fun the whole week. It was all great up until the loss, but even that, it's just a part of the game and you've got to get right back on that horse and get back out there and get a ‘W.' I just want to be done losing. I don't want to lose anymore."
Weidman said he is already back in the gym with a renewed fire and is pushing to return to action as soon as possible. But ultimately, Weidman wasn't the only member of his family to suffer through a tough night at UFC 205.
Weidman's brother-in-law, Stephen Thompson, sustained significant damage en route to a disappointing majority draw against UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in the card's co-main event, and Weidman threw much of the blame for Thompson's setback on himself, reasoning that it must have been hellish for Thompson to see a loved one so badly injured just minutes before the biggest moment of his professional career.
"My wife actually [recorded] us the first time we saw each other after the fight," Weidman said. "I watched his whole fight. I was getting my stitches and I was able to sit there and watch the fight in the room, and the first thing I did when I saw him is I apologized to him. I'm sorry that he had to see what he saw with me. We had an emotional moment, for sure.
"The video is pretty pathetic of me and him just sobbing and hugging each other for a good 30, 45 seconds. I don't know. I felt terrible, and I'm sure it did affect him. That sucks. For him to have to watch that, that was bad. That was brutal. To see that, someone who you love get hit with a knee like that, and then you've got to make that walk next, there's no question it affected him."
As it stands now, Weidman appears to plenty of work ahead of him in order to return to his place atop the middleweight division. His back-to-back losses have sent him behind a crowded pack of contenders that include Romero, Rockhold, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Gegard Mousasi, and Robert Whittaker.
Weidman said he would be more than willing to fight any one of them, but also would understand if the UFC gave him an up-and-coming name in the division instead. He is hoping to return on Feb. 11 at UFC 209 in Brooklyn, and while some pundits have talked about how a move to the light heavyweight division would present an easier path back to a UFC title, Weidman indicated that the middleweight belt remains his current focus.
"I could walk around at like 215 (pounds). That's kind of where I'm walking around right now, but a lot of these guys are walking around 230, so I would need a little time to go up. But to be honest with you, I really do feel like I'm the best in the world at middleweight," Weidman said. "And my last two fights I haven't shown it, so my words don't mean anything. But me and my coaches and people around me believe in that.
"There's definitely some contenders (ahead of me), but I feel like one or two, possibly three -- I don't know how many wins it will take (to get back into title contention), but I want to do it fast though. I want to fight probably in February and fight again two months later, three months later, whatever it is, and do it again. I just feel like with my accolades that I already have, and with the good competition that there is in the middleweight division, it doesn't take me too many wins to get people excited about me fighting for the title again."