Weidman told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour hat he gave Rockhold, the champion, a gift by pulling out of their middleweight title fight Saturday in Los Angeles. Michael Bisping, Rockhold's new opponent, is an easier foe, Weidman said.
Rockhold would not co-sign that statement. Not even close.
"I think [Weidman] might have been easier, in my opinion," Rockhold told Helwani on the show soon after. "Bisping is just a little bit funner. It's more tactical. I'm gonna enjoy it more. It's gonna be funner for the fans. Weidman kind of fights ugly and fights with his balls. Comes forward and might get a little sloppy. I'd pick him off fairly early. I think he overextends."
Rockhold won the belt from Weidman at UFC 194 back in December via fourth-round TKO. The two were supposed to have a rematch at The Forum, but Weidman pulled out two weeks ago due to a nerve issue in his neck. Bisping stepped in when the next top contender, Ronaldo Souza, said he couldn't fight due to a knee injury.
Bisping, Rockhold said, presents a more interesting challenge than Weidman. Those two have also fought previously. Rockhold finished Bisping via second-round submission with a one-armed guillotine in November 2014. The two men do not like each other, having gone back and forth before that bout and now again before this one.
"It excites me more," Rockhold said. "It's gonna be fun for me. It's gonna be fun for the fans. I like tactical battles. I like outsmarting him. I like adjusting and making my points. Weidman just kind of fights like an idiot. He just f*cking runs forward and exposes himself and kind of overcommits and relies on his toughness. Bisping tries to make it more tactical and I enjoy that, that process of finding my shots and outdoing him, outsmarting him in the cage and putting him away."
Weidman might need to get another win now before earning a title shot. He won the belt from Anderson Silva, ending Silva's seven-year reign, in 2013 and then beat Silva again five months later. The Long Island native also has title defenses against Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort to his name.
Souza could be the next man in line for the winner of Rockhold vs. Bisping, though Yoel Romero, who beat "Jacare" in December, is also in the conversation. Romero's six-month USADA suspension for a banned substance is up July 11.
Weidman remains a contender and, with the way both he and Rockhold have been talking, a rematch does seem inevitable. Even if it won't happen this weekend.
"I think they're both in the same department," Rockhold said of Weidman and Bisping. "I think I'd finish the fights in similar fashion."