Prior to Israel Adesanya winning the interim Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title following a memorable bout against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 236 (highlights), Chris Weidman wasn’t convinced “The Last Stylebender” warranted all the hype.
And though “All American” gave props to Israel for the fight and capturing UFC gold, he is still confident he’s the better fighter of the two. Speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, Weidman said he is a “nightmare” matchup for Adesanya, and took the time to address his previous criticism of the kick boxer.
“Look, people were going nuts on Israel. He’s a very talented guy, he’s got great standup and now I know that he is super tough after that last fight. Before he fought Anderson Silva, he fought Derek Brunson, he fought Silva who is 44 and is known as a standup guy, which is a perfect matchup for him. It was a very close fight,” said Chris.
“At that point people were talking about him like he’s the next best thing, and at that point I just thought he was overrated and he hadn’t been able to prove himself yet. He hasn’t gone against a top wrestler, hadn’t fought guys in the top five. I just felt people were getting ahead of themselves. But that was it,” he explained.
“I’m a fan of the guy, I like watching him fight and I would love to fight him. I think I’m a nightmare matchup for him if you look on paper, just based on the paper with my wrestling and my jiu-jitsu. With my size, I think I will be a real problem for him,” he added.
“But I think the guy is awesome, I wasn’t trying to put him down, I was just being realistic in the situation because he hadn’t fought a top five guy yet up until Kelvin.
Weidman was last seen losing to Ronaldo Souza via knockout at UFC 230 last year (see it again here). Chris is currently sidelined after undergoing neck and knee surgery, and is eyeing a return to action later this year, possibly this summer.
If “All American” ever wants the chance to back up his thoughts on Adesanya, he will have to reel in a couple of impressive wins to get back to the top, as “The Last Stylebender” is undefeated 17-0, 6-0 UFC.
Up next for Israel is a title unification bout against 185-pound champion Robert Whittaker, which is expected to go down this September.