Chris Weidman at crossroads
July 18, 2017 3:05 AM
by Alan Berg
Chris Weidman was on top of the UFC world only three years ago. He was the guy that stopped arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time, Anderson Silva. He reigned as Middleweight Champion for over two years until he ran into Luke Rockhold, who took the title in convincing fashion.
Following the impressive run as middleweight champ, Weidman lost to Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi, marking three straight fights without getting his hand raised in victory. Still ranked as the No. 5 middleweight in the world, he faces Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX Saturday.
The question on fight fans’ minds: which Weidman will show up? According to Westgate, the former UFC Middleweight Champion is the underdog at +135. While Gastelum, fresh off a first round KO of Vitor Belfort that was technically overturned due to the winner testing positive for marijuana, is a -155 favorite. The total for the five round fight is 2.5 OVER -160/UNDER +140.
Weidman just hasn’t found himself since losing his title but, honestly, the Romero fight was the only one he could make the excuse that a lucky shot ended his night. Weidman isn’t the type to make excuses so it’s doubtful he’s doing anything but looking toward the present.
To me this is the true crossroads fight for Weidman; he’s an underdog to a guy that two years ago he’s probably a -200 favorite over. Gastelum has very heavy hands and a great striking game, but that’s something Weidman has seen multiple times in his career.
While I don’t think Weidman will ever be able to defeat the top guys in the middleweight division anymore I do think he is still good enough to beat Gastelum. He will have to wear down the striker consistently using his wrestling to control the action. I think a parlay here is a real nice combination (if the book you are at allows that wager) at around +282.
Other fights on the card include a big time fight in the bantamweight division pitting No. 5 Jimmie Rivera against No. 9 Thomas Almeida. Almeida was on the fast track to a UFC title shot and ran into then contender, now champion Cody Garbrant. It’s Almeida’s only blemish on his 21-1 record. Almeida, by the way, is a knockout machine, which means he’s my type of fighter.
Rivera has a 20-1 record with 19 straight wins (4 in the UFC). His last win was a unanimous decision against the now retired, new UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber. Should be a fantastic fight.