While Chael Sonnen received most of the publicity for his willingness to fight light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on short notice to "save" the famously canceled UFC 151 fight card in Sept. 2012, another middleweight contender was also ready to step in at the last minute.
His name is Chris Weidman.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) current No. 1 contender at 185-pounds claims that just days before the event when news surfaced Dan Henderson had withdrawn from his title fight against Jones, he jumped at the opportunity to face "Bones" but it simply did not work out.
"I'm the type of guy that loves big opportunities. I like when the cards are against me, and people think that I have no chance. I believe in myself, so when that fight came out that it was in jeopardy, I called my manager and asked if there was a possibility that I could get the fight because I think I could take it. He was like, 'Really?' and I was like, 'Yeah.' He said give me a couple days, and I told him I was ready to go."
"So, he called Joe Silva, and he was like, 'Are you kidding me?' I think Joe liked the fact that I did that. So he said he wasn't going to tell Dana and them unless I called my coaches to make sure it was all 100%. I called Matt and told him that I wanted to this. They were all on board, so I called back my manager, and he tells Joe Silva, and he thought it was awesome, so he called Dana White, but then they ended up throwing the fight out, and then the whole card out. I was all ready to go [laughs]. I ran straight to the gym and started working out."
Even though he would have had to put on an additional 20 pounds from the weight he usually competes at to face Jones, it wouldn't have been the first time Weidman volunteered his services as a replacement at the last minute.
When Mark Munoz went down with an injury at UFC on FOX 2 in January 2012 and the card had to be reshuffled, Weidman filled in as a replacement to face former divisional title challenger Demian Maia on just 10 days notice.
He went to win the fight by unanimous decision, but Weidman described the process of making the middleweight limit as, "the hardest cut I've ever made."
Very few fighters enjoy cutting weight and Weidman is absolutely no different. He knows it's a part of the sport, though. However, if a time came where fans and the UFC brass wanted him to switch weight classes, a move to the light heavyweight division isn't out of the realm of possibility.
"I want to keep fighting at 185 and win the belt there first. If the fans and the UFC want me to go up, I could do that, but I make 185 pretty easy. I'm at 203 right now, which is actually pretty light for a lot of middleweights. I think I could definitely be a 205er, too. I'd just put muscle on and head on up. It's whatever the fans and UFC want, but right now, my focus is on middleweight and Anderson Silva."
And it better be.
Weidman will look to become the first man to defeat Silva inside the UFC Octagon when he challenges "The Spider" for his middleweight crown in the main event of UFC 162 on July 6, 2013 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For more news and notes on UFC 162, visit our complete event archive here.