SAN JOSE, CALIF. &ndasp; Only four days after Anderson Silva's win in the highest-profile middleweight fight in UFC story against Chael Sonnen, a new challenger has already made a statement both in and out of the Octagon.
Chris Weidman (9-0), a former two-time All-American wrestler from Hofstra, called out the champion after a complete domination of Mark Munoz (12-3), in the main event on Wednesday night's UFC on Fuel TV event from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
"I want Anderson Silva," Weidman said moments after finishing and completely outwrestling the former NCAA Division I champ Munoz. "Every time I've had a full training camp, I've had a finish. Give me a full training camp and I want a title shot."
"I don't want to be that guy who says it'll be an easy fight," Weidman said about a potential title opportunity. "He's been through 15 guys who tried to take him down and hold him down. Chael Sonnen is that good, and he was able to get him down in ever single fight. I follow that blueprint. I've also got the length so he can't stay on the outside. As soon as he comes in, my takedowns are pretty good. I'll get him down and I think I can submit him and finish him. I really think I could."
Weidman connected with an elbow to the face of Munoz as his foe went for a punch early in the second round. Munoz went down and was finished with punches on the ground at 1:37 in the round.
It wasn't just the finish, but that Weidman took his opponent down a split second into the fight, and made Munoz look like he wasn't even competition.
"I didn't want to be one of those guys calling out Anderson Silva, but now I am," said Weidman. "I wanted to make a statement in this fight, that I was at the head of the pack."
It was important for Weidman not just to win, but win in attention-grabbing fashion if he was hoping for the next chance at the title.
Silva's next challenger is expected to come down to the winners of three matches, of which this was the first. The second is a July 21 fight in Calgary at UFC 149, where Hector Lombard (31-2-1, 1 no contest) faces Tim Boetsch (15-4). The third would be a match involving Michael Bisping (22-4), who is recovering from minor knee surgery at the moment but is expected to fight in September. The most impressive of the three winners was expected to have the inside track.
Coming in, it was going to be toughest for Weidman. Lombard, who was champion of rival promotion Bellator was just signed, and is coming in unbeaten in his last 25 fights and that record may give him the edge.
Bisping has been one of UFC's top stars since 2006 and has an established worldwide name. And really it was Munoz who was also talked about to perhaps be next in line for a title shot.
Weidman came in as the dark horse, and needed an impressive performance coming off a sluggish win over Demian Maia on Jan. 28 in Chicago. Weidman took the match on late notice, ironically when Munoz's elbow injury worsened and he needed surgery and had to pull out. While it wasn't a good fight in front of a large television audience, Weidman said the bright side was he got a win over a higher profile fighter, and it was a great learning experience.
"That fight was the worst experience of my life, but I learned the most from it," said Weidman. "I lost 32 pounds in 10 days. I was at maybe 10 or 20 percent, but I found a way to win against a top five guy in the world, even if it was an ugly win. As bad as it was from an outside view, I got a lot more confidence in my ability to beat a top guy with an empty tank."
"He looked damn good tonight," UFC president Dana White said. "If you ask anybody out there, pretty much everybody had Munoz as No. 3 in the world and Weidman absolutely destroyed him tonight."
"Munoz was No. 3, Chael [Sonnen], who just got beat, was No. 2," White said. "Hector Lombard is going to fight his first UFC fight next Saturday. We'll see how he does. If you talk to 100 people, none of them would have said the fight was going to go the way it did."
Munoz, who grew up in Vallejo, Calif., about 90 minutes from San Jose, came out as the star of the show for the local audience of 4,250 fans. But the crowd had nothing to cheer the entire fight.
After the initial takedown, Weidman punished him on the ground for the rest of the round, throwing punches and elbows. Munoz finally got to his feet late, but Weidman kept him under control until the round ended.
"I know I'm pretty good at timing guys, and he winds up with that right hand," Weidman said. "There were three different things I was going to try to do. One was a takedown. One was an elbow. One was a left hook. I was surprised I was able to get the takedown easy. I was prepared for it to be tougher.
I was prepared to be Joey Beltran [who took a tremendous beating before eventually earning a win]. Tonight was my night to make it look a little prettier and not get beat up as bad."
When the second round started, Weidman once again took Munoz down immediately. This time Munoz got back up on his feet and threw a wild punch that missed. When Munoz tried to throw another blow, Weidman countered with a right elbow to the face. He noted he had been practicing that counter extensively for the fight with boxing trainer Ray Longo.
"Yeah he came in with that elbow, I was trying to throw an overhand right and that's what happens sometimes," Munoz said. "Props to him, he landed that elbow."
Weidman also came out with a $45,000 bonus for best knockout, which couldn't have been an easy decision since Andrew Craig did a high kick knockout in a prelim match that was highlight-reel caliber.
While Weidman is hoping he can do what Sonnen wasn't able to on Saturday, he concedes right away that he won't be able to match the previous challengers' ability to sell a fight.
"Yeah, I'm a pretty laid back guy," Weidman said. "I can't pull a Chael Sonnen. He's the most gifted man on the mic. I'd love to be that guy, but I can't. I'll just try to be myself. I feel I really deserve a shot. I've only fought nine times but I've won five straight in the UFC, and I've beaten two straight top-five guys. I feel I did put my dues in, I'm 9-0. I believe I'm ready and I'm going to go after Anderson Silva if I get that shot."
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