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Identifying 'gift' to Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman explains why he rejected a tune-up fight

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has an opportunity to gain back the title he lost at UFC 194 to the fighter who took it from him. Weidman faces current 185 pound-champion Luke Rockhold for the second time in as many meetings at UFC 199 in June.

What's notable for Weidman is the immediate rematch, an opportunity typically granted after a close contest. While the native New Yorker in Weidman had his moments in his first meeting, he was ultimately overcome by Rockhold and finished in the fourth round.

Still, Weidman elected to take a rematch rather than a tune-up fight. That strategy poses a number of risks, not least of which is that a second loss to Rockhold removes Weidman from the title queue for the foreseeable future and perhaps beyond.

Yet, as he argued last week, he believes there's cause to take the rematch over a tune-up fight. In this partial transcript with audio clips from The Luke Thomas Show on SiriusXM, Weidman explains his rationale while detailing the particular nature of his injuries.

Here's one thing I'm wondering. The first fight between you and Rockhold held a lot of anticipation. After it was over, it was revealed both fighters had their pre-fight health issues. But why the immediate rematch? Why not take some time to get a tune-up fight?

Because I know physically and mentally where I was at that night. I know my potential and I know that I'm that much better than him. I can get my belt back now, so why would I wait?

Was it just an injury issue? Was there anything else?

I broke my foot six weeks out in three spots. That's well documented. I went in there to win the fight. I took the fight. I wasn't going to come off the card. And I've gone into fights with serious injuries before and I felt like I could go in there and beat him even with that.

What hurt the most was I wasn't able to train the right way. I wasn't able to wrestle, I wasn't able to do any sprinting or running or anything to get cardio up. In the back of my mind, that might've been the thing that hurt me the most, knowing that I wasn't able to train properly.

You know what? Obviously I can say it was excuses, but I went in there to beat his ass. I believe I could beat him even like that and I was wrong. I believe if I'm prepared properly the guy has no chance with me. It's my belt he has right now.

I understand you could watch that fight and see it's back and forth. When that spinning back kick happened and he got the takedown, that was probably when he was at his worst. He was starting to go downhill with the body kicks I was hitting him with. He looked like he was starting to break and I threw him a gift - the spinning back kick - that he capitalized on.

If you watch that fight, I can understand why you'd be like, 'Why not just take another fight?' But I know who I am and where I was at. That's why I refused to take another fight. I also know the situation. It's a do-or-die situation. If I lose this fight again, it might not be good for me. I can understand that. That's the situation I want to be in because I believe in myself and I know what I'm capable of.

It's interesting. You took the fight thinking you could power through injuries and then other fighters, like Rafael dos Anjos, but he was publicly mocked, lost a big payday. When a fighter is injured before a fight, is there really a right answer about whether you actually go through with it?

I think the biggest thing is, if you can get your cardio where it needs to be and you truly believe you can win and not have to worry about your cardio like you weren't able to train enough, I think you're ready to go. It's hard to give a right or wrong answer. Every injury is different.

My broken foot was an acute break in the fifth metatarsal. I went to a podiatrist after my fight and it was still fractured. That was seven or eight weeks after my fight, it was still fractured, and it was broken six weeks before it. I went to an urgent care as soon as I broke my foot, six weeks before the fight. They said I had broken foot in two spots.

Then I go see a specialist. I was not getting out of that fight. I figured in four weeks my foot would be healed because broken bones usually heal in four weeks. That was the goal and it didn't heal at all. I had to keep working out and it was just a tough spot I was in.

Before you know it, the fight was closer and closer and it wasn't healed, but I wasn't going to pull out. I put myself in that position and I mentally prepared to get through it and to beat him. It didn't pan out that night.

Like I said, I broke that fifth metatarsal and I figured it's not like any other bone. I went to the podiatrist after the fight and he said in his 25-year career, he's only seen four or five acute bones broken before and it's usually disasters where they just don't heal very quickly. They take up to a year. So he was real worried for me.

I got an MRI a couple of weeks later and finally, it's healed. So, now I'm good to go. I healed better than most. I did everything I can. I took all these vitamins - vitamin K, all this different crap the doctors recommended - and now I'm feeling great. It was a tough spot to break my foot, I guess.

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