As UFC Vegas 6 is on the horizon, barring the main event it’s the future of former middleweight champion Chris Weidman that is the big talking point of the card.
The Serra/Longo fighter steps into the Octagon for the first time since his fight with Dominick Reyes at 205lbs, as he attempted to go up a division to get away from his woes at middleweight. It ended horribly for him as a left hand dropped him in the first round and the ensuing ground and pound saw referee Herb Dean stop the fight less than two minutes into the opening round.
That was Weidman’s fifth defeat in six fights, all knockouts. He was KO’d by Luke Rockhold before a flying knee by Yoel Romero essentially caved his skull in. He was then stopped by knees from Gegard Mousasi before he out-grappled Kelvin Gastelum and secured an arm triangle choke in the third round. At that point many people expected an upturn in his fortunes, but it just went downhill from then once again. Jacare Souza knocked him out in the next fight with strikes before Reyes took his light-heavyweight virginity from him in brutal fashion.
Weidman himself has acknowledged that this fight is one of the most important of his career, stating he needs a W. Speaking at media day during fight week, Weidman said;
“I need to get a freaking ‘W’. I need to get back on my winning ways. I think I have a lot of advantages in this fight but when you’re in there, you never know what’s going to happen.
“I’m taking it very serious. He’s tough but when I look at the guys I’ve fought, I don’t think he’s up there as far as the most talented. I think that’s a fair statement without knocking him.”
While he’s the favourite for the fight, Akhmedov isn’t a pushover. He’s 5-0-1 in his last six including wins over Abdul Razak Alhassan, Tim Boetsch and Ian Heinisch. He’s a very good all-round fighter and with all of those six fights going the distance, Weidman knows he needs to be fully alert and active for 15 minutes.
His wrestling is still an elite level in comparison to most in the organisation, but his chin has seemingly left him. He now needs to focus on keeping his guard high and not getting hit or he will continue to suffer losses. If that is the case, another defeat in this fight will surely spell the end of his career.
If the fight hits the ground its likely to be because Weidman has taken it there and is on top so he should be relatively safe from the knockout in that sense. While Akhmedov doesn’t have Reyes’s power, it only took one shot in reality to finish that fight despite the ground and pound that followed.
If Weidman ends this fight with Akhmedov’s hand raised instead of his own, it may be time to hang up the gloves. He has a family and is still relatively young, so he doesn’t need to keep taking punishment with no reward. It could even be the case that with potentially six defeats in seven fights, the UFC cut their losses and remove him from the roster themselves.