Chris Weidman: UFC champ Jon Jones a bigger puzzle, but lacks Anderson Silva's mystique

Chris Weidman hopes to join the small list of fighters who have shared the octagon with both Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. He wants to separate himself from that group, though, by being the only one to beat them.

Weidman (14-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) has a pair of famous wins over Silva (34-10 MMA, 17-6 UFC), the first of which saw him end one of the most successful title reigns in UFC history with a stunning knockout. The road to Jones begins Friday with a main-event matchup against Dominick Reyes (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 6.

It’s been several years since Weidman held UFC gold, and he long pursued recapturing it at 185 pounds. He’s turned the page, though, and is set to make his light heavyweight debut against Reyes. For Weidman, it’s the first step in a special achievement.

“One of the reasons I’m definitely excited to go (to light heavyweight) is there’s a guy there who people think can’t be beat and who people consider to be one of the greatest of all time, if not the greatest of all time,” Weidman told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Wednesday at UFC on ESPN 6 media day. “That’s what really excited me at middleweight. So to have the opportunity to not just shock the world once, but also twice in my career, and beat two of the guys that people think are the GOATs, that’s the sort of legacy I think I would want to leave behind.”

If Weidman were to position himself for a championship fight at 205 pounds, he would join Daniel Cormier, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen as the only men to fight “Bones” and “The Spider.” Only Cormier managed to beat Silva, but it came in a short-notice fight when the Brazilian was removed from the height of his success.

Weidman was able to topple Silva at the pinnacle of his career, though, and he would love nothing more than to do the same with Jones. He said there are a lot of similarities between the two all-time greats, but he sees some key differences, too.

“At the time Anderson Silva had such a mystique and an aura about him that was actually greater than Jon Jones,” Weidman said. “He was dominating everybody, putting his hands down, playing with them. Jon Jones isn’t doing that. He had two tough fights in his last two outings against guys who were middleweights. Two tough guys, but he didn’t look unbeatable in those fights. Anderson Silva, he had the invincibility feel to him when I fought him.

“As far as skillset, it’s a very interesting puzzle. I think (Jones is) more of an interesting puzzle as far as skillset, but maybe not as much of a puzzle when it comes to mindset and keeping mental focus and not letting the moment get to you and all that.”

Weidman expects his light heavyweight debut to get off to a strong start. He thinks the matchup with Reyes, which takes place at TD Garden in Boston and airs on ESPN2, is stylistically in his favor, and said he’s keen to see how his abilities blent together in a new weight class.

Jones is currently not officially booked into a matchup, and Weidman said the right performance could put him at the front of the queue to get that opportunity.

“I think there’s definitely a good possibility for that for sure,” Weidman said. “Given my credentials at middleweight being a multiple-time world champion and then coming up in weight going against a guy who is undefeated at light heavyweight, ranked No. 4 (in the UFC rankings). If I go out there and make a statement and dominate him (I can get the shot). … If you look at the skill sets and put them on paper then I think I am a bad matchup for him if there is any for Jon Jones.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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