The former middleweight champion is making his long awaited return after suffering a devastating broken leg in his most recent fight against Uriah Hall back in April 2021. The injury nearly ended his career but Weidman was adamant about coming back with that journey leading him to the fight against Tavares at UFC 292 on Saturday.
While he never dealt with something like a compound fracture, Tavares has gone through his own injury woes over the years so there’s definitely part of him feeling sympathetic towards Weidman as the New York native prepares to compete for the first time in over two years.
“That was a freaky, scary accident and definitely not something I would wish upon him to happen again,” Tavares told MMA Fighting. “I couldn’t even watch it when it happened. I was watching and I looked away.
“I’m not into that scene, especially so close to home. It’s a fighter. It’s something that I do. To see something like that is nasty.”
With Weidman coming back from that gruesome broken leg, Tavares appreciates the feel-good story surrounding the fight but it truthfully means nothing to him.
For all the ways Tavares would never wish ill will on any of his opponents, he didn’t sign up to fight at UFC 292 just so he could roll over and play dead to complete Weidman’s redemption story.
“I am a nice guy. I am a respectful guy. It’s nothing but love but at the end of the day, I’m here to s*** on his return,” Tavares said. “This is me versus him. This is my family and my life on the line as well. I wish him the best after he fights me. For now, I’m going out there to destroy him and whatever comes with that, so be it.
“Do I have any issues with Chris Weidman? No, I do not. But do I think for a second that guy wants to take it easy on me and doesn’t want to hurt me if he has the opportunity? Hell no. It’s the fight game. He’s out there to try and kill me and I’m there to do the same. I am a nice guy, I am a respectful warrior, I’ve always seen myself [like that] and been that way but I’m here to s*** on that return and that Cinderella story. It can start after my fight with him.”
As far as what he expects out of Weidman after the injury and a layoff that’s lasted over two years, Tavares couldn’t possibly predict the physical or mental side of coming back from that.
He actually holds Weidman in high regard after ending Anderson Silva’s reign as UFC middleweight champion — the fighter he considers the greatest of all-time — but Tavares doesn’t really care much about how his opponent is feeling in the days leading up to their fight.
“None of it affects me,” Tavares said. “I’m going to go out there for iron legged Chris Weidman. I saw the quote that he said he wanted to come out there and throw the hardest leg kick. I welcome it. If that’s what you want to do, cool, get it out of the way. Test your fears, whatever you want to do.”
The narrative ahead of their fight might center around Weidman and his comeback but Tavares is quick to point out that he has plenty of frustration fueling him after suffering back-to-back losses in his last two appearances in the UFC. He has no plans to suffer a third straight setback.
“I say this all the time, nothing motivates me and f****** wakes me up like coming off a loss,” Tavares said. “Coming off a win is great, you’re on a high but there’s something about that bitter taste of defeat in your mouth. That’s motivation right there. It didn’t matter who it was. It just so happens it’s Chris Weidman now.”