With his back against the wall after a 1-5 run in his past six fights, Chris Weidman knew it was do-or-die for him heading into the UFC Vegas 6 co-main event.
In a return to his wrestling roots, the former middleweight champion showcased a strong grappling game and a whole lot of heart to earn a unanimous decision victory over a battle-tested opponent in Omari Akhmedov. After three grueling rounds, Weidman got the win with the judges scoring the fight 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28 all in his favor.
“It was huge,” Weidman said about his win. “A lot of pressure on and I’m happy to get my hand raised. I’m not too happy with that performance but I needed a win.”
There was no secret to Weidman’s strategy as he came out of his corner and began hunting Akhmedov around the cage as he looked for the takedown. The former Hofstra wrestler didn’t bring the action to the mat until there was less than two minutes remaining in the opening round but he put it in Akhmedov’s head right away that he was going to have to find a way to defend those takedowns.
In response, Akhmedov continued to push forward while throwing heavy punches as he tested Weidman’s chin and seeing if the former middleweight champion had the conditioning to maintain the same pace.
The Dagestani fighter also managed to bring Weidman down to the mat several times, which only further depleted his gas tank.
With five minutes remaining, Weidman knew he had to dig deep and go for broke as he charged across the cage, initiated the takedown and brought the fight back down to the ground. Weidman eventually worked his way into the mount where he began unloading elbows and just pushing all of his weight down on Akhmedov’s chest.
He didn’t get the finish but the dominant final round helped Weidman secure the victory as he gets back in the win column for the first time since 2017. He may not be calling for a title shot right away but Weidman believes he’s now ready to return to the upper echelon of the middleweight division.
“I’m back,” Weidman said. “All the top tier guys, I’m coming for you.”