The number one contender in Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) Middleweight division may or may not have been crowned last night (July 11, 2012), when Mark Munoz took on Chris Weidman at UFC on Fuel TV 4, LIVE from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
After scoring a dominant win in front of the Northern California crowd and his bosses, Weidman will now have to wait and see what happens when UFC newcomer Hector Lombard takes on Tim Boetsch at UFC 149, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Sat., July 21, 2012.
If "Shango" is victorious, he will almost certainly be the next in line to take on UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. If "The Barbarian" is able to muster out a win, things will look different.
Either way, none of that will be made clear for a couple more weeks. In the meantime, no shine should be taken away from Weidman's victory, regardless if it leads to a title shot or not.
After the jump, we'll take a look at how this fight was won, as well as what very well may be next for Chris Weidman:
From the opening horn, Weidman was all over Munoz, absolutely smothering him at every turn. There was some initial talk as to who was the better wrestler, and Weidman seemed intent on making the point that it was him, as he shot and secured a power takedown, right away.
For the rest of the round, Munoz was on the defense, and, quite frankly, there wasn't a second of this fight that Munoz wasn't hanging on by a thread and fighting just to survive.
This contest was surprisingly never close. Not for any part of it. When Weidman nailed Munoz with a beautifully violent elbow, right on the button, and then followed his opponent to the canvas to finish him, it was clear that there was, indeed, a vast separation in the competition -- it just didn't end up being in favor of the fighter that a lot of fans and so-called experts thought that it would.
From the beginning to the end, I sat in shock, staring at the screen as Weidman completely and utterly dismantled a guy who has never been on that end of the "thumping stick" during his time at middleweight.
I'm gonna be honest, I think it's an absolute shame if Weidman doesn't move to the front of the line and get a crack at Silva. A performance like that over a competitor like Munoz earns him having his ticket punched.
Lombard is a devastating striker and an explosive fighter, in general, but he just got here. Let him earn it. If he walks through Boetsch and then beats another top-tier opponent, I have no problem with the match. But, after seeing what Weidman did last night, I just don't see how you pass him over.
If Lombard wins, as many predict he will, Weidman will be out of the title picture, momentarily, and will have to win one more fight to get on the doorstep.
We could have a debate about Bisping and Stann being worthy contenders, and you'd probably make some very valid points. But the truth is, neither of them have the same bragging rights that currently belong to Belcher.
"The Talent" has won four in a row. Not only that, before his last fight, he told the whole world that he was not afraid of going to the ground with dreaded submission specialist Rousimar Palhares. To boot, Belcher predicted that if that happened, he would get the better of the exchange.
Not many were buying what he was selling. "Toquinho" is renowned for his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. The man has 10 submission wins, four of which occurred inside the Octagon and in gruesome fashion. No one wanted to go to the ground with Palhares.
Not only did he go there, he backed up his trash talk, got the better of the man that many thought was the best submission artist in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), and then annihilated him by TKO.
For me, his resume speaks for itself. If Lombard gets the title shot, Belcher should be next in line. He just so happens to be standing next to Weidman.
So how do they match up against each other?
I've gotta be honest. It's a crazy match up and a fight I'd love to see. Before this last fight, I honestly would have picked Belcher, in a heartbeat. But I don't know anymore. I'll be first in line to say I underrated Weidman and did it by a longshot.
Either way, it's a heck of a consolation prize if Weidman doesn't get pitted against Silva.
Should Lombard not be able to come out on top at UFC 149, then it would likely be Weidman who would get the title shot versus Silva.
Whichever way it goes down, it's win-win for the fans.
Feel free to shoot me down or offer your own ideas about what you think the future may hold for Weidman, in the comment section below!