UFC on FUEL 4 headliners Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman each successfully made weight at 186 pounds for their five-round main event. Speaking to SBNation New York last week, Weidman had no doubts he'd be on the mark. While his camp was rigorous, it was in some ways a pleasure compared to the hell he put himself through having to lose 32 pounds in 10 days as an injury replacement facing Demian Maia at UFC on FOX 2.
Many in the media have pegged Munoz as Anderson Silva's next challenger if he prevails Wednesday in San Jose, Calf., whereas others believe a dynamic win from Hector Lombard in his UFC debut July 21 at UFC 149 over Tim Boetsch will line him up for the Spider. The Munoz camp will tout their fighter winning five straight and paying his dues in a rugged division. Lombard supporters will cite a 31-2-1 (1 NC) MMA record, a 25-fight win streak (should he beat Boetsch), his reign as Bellator middleweight champ and Jake Shields earning an immediate shot at Georges St. Pierre after besting Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut.
But say if Weidman wins and looks tremendous doing it and Lombard subsequently flames out, would that anoint the Serra-Longo student as a top contender? Weidman will ask for the title shot and trainer Ray Longo sees a bit of Chael Sonnen in his student, a bruising, grind-it-out wrestling game that would take Silva off his vertical base and give him fits.
“If I make a big statement I definitely do want the title shot. I feel like I deserve it," Weidman said. "If not, definitely the No. 1 contender's spot to fight for. But I have to prove myself against Mark Munoz first.”
Victory will not only skyrocket Weidman to elite status, it will bring a ton of attention to New York MMA, exactly what those crusading for the sport to be sanctioned in the Empire State need to continue to try and convince the Assembly to sign off on a bill. Matt Serra's stunning upset of St. Pierre in 2007 set his legacy for life and helped him open his chain of jiu-jitsu schools. Given the increased attention through social and mainstream media, Weidman can take a significant step in being the new flag carrier.
"I think the more I win, the better it is for New York, because of the more publicity I'll start getting and being able to open (Albany's) eyes a bit more," Weidman said. " If I win this fight and I start fighting for the title, it's just another eye opener. It's [crazy] MMA is not legal in New York. I think all of Long Island will take the Long Island Railroad right into Madison Square Garden. It'd be packed. It'd be such a good time. (To fight in MSG), it'd be awesome for everybody who stuck with me from the beginning and everybody who jumped on the wagon from Long Island."
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