NEWARK, N.J. – Had Rashad Evans beaten Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156 this past February, it appears that he would have been making a division change and going after Anderson Silva.
Instead, Chris Weidman has that shot, and he’ll fight for Silva’s middleweight title in July at UFC 162 in Las Vegas.
But Weidman on Friday, at a UFC Fight Club Q&A session prior to the UFC 159 weigh-ins at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., revealed that he might have been fighting someone else this summer and not going after Silva’s belt.
That’s because Silva’s next challenger was between Evans and Weidman, and all it would have taken for Evans to get the shot – which would have required a drop to middleweight from light heavyweight, which he had been teasing as possible for weeks prior – was a win over “Little Nog.” Instead, Nogueira pulled the upset, and the stars aligned for Weidman.
“It’s crazy how this fight ended up,” Weidman said. “I had shoulder surgery, and there were a couple of other contenders that were going to (possibly) have the shot – Michael Bisping, if he won (against Vitor Belfort in January), would’ve had the shot instead of me. … There were a couple guys like Bisping and maybe (Alan) Belcher that were ahead of me. And then it got actually down to me and Rashad. I was with Dana White and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and they said, ‘Listen, it’s going to be between you and Rashad.’ And Rashad ended up losing.”
Weidman still remembers how he officially found out he was getting the next shot – because it certainly wasn’t as simple as Evans being upset, and Weidman knowing for sure he’d be training for a title fight.
The Silva camp didn’t just immediately sign on the dotted line. There was a little back and forth that took place first, which White said at the time he’s come to expect from the pound-for-pound king.
But then Weidman got the call he’d been dreaming about his entire career.
“I was doing an appearance in New Jersey and was like, ‘It’s me. I got it,’ (when Evans lost),” Weidman said. “But they still weren’t saying they were going to fight me, so I just relaxed. And all of a sudden I was in New York and Lorenzo said, ‘By the way, I spoke to Anderson. You’re going to fight him July 6.’”
Weidman initially had hoped that a win over Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 would get him a crack at Silva. But he was taken out of that fight with an injury. Instead, he didn’t have to go through anymore battles and still gets the title shot he had been hoping for.
“It really is crazy how it ended up working out,” he said. “Obviously, I’m very grateful for the opportunity. When I got injured I felt like something good was going to come from this.”
For the latest on UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.