Just a short time ago, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight Chris Weidman (9-0) was on the short-list of names for a 185-pound title shot.
The 28-year-old was scheduled to clash with fellow contender Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 later this month before he was forced out of the bout by a shoulder injury that required surgery. Constantinos Philippou took Weidman's place on the card and now the "All-American" is forced to sit on the sidelines.
After going under the knife last month, Weidman expects to make a full recovery and return to the Octagon by roughly the midway point of 2013.
"[I am] two weeks post-op, another two weeks until I can start the P.T. and then they said three months I'll be at 90 percent," Weidman told Craig Carton, Luke Thomas and Nate Quarry on Thursday's edition of "MMA Uncensored Live" on Spike TV. "Four months I'll be 100 percent, which leads me to probably around late-May, early-June for my next fight."
Weidman has been a target for number of middleweight fighters since his last bout -- a second-round knockout of Mark Munoz at UFC on FUEL TV 4 -- but none more so than The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 3 winner Michael Bisping.
Bisping was an in-studio guest on the Nov. 29, 2012, edition of "MMA Uncensored Live," and the 33-year-old held nothing back when Weidman's name came up, taking shots at him for an underwhelming performance against Demian Maia at UFC on FOX 2 as well as claiming Munoz was not at his best when Weidman faced him.
"Chris Weidman, I never knew who he was." Bisping said. "He had a fight against Demian Maia, it was in my locker room when I was warming up for Chael Sonnen, I had to turn it off. I was trying to get excited for the fight and it was like watching bloody paint dry. What was his next fight? An out of shape Mark Munoz, you know, he elbowed some guy and put him to sleep. That looked good, but other than that I don't know who Chris Weidman is."
Two weeks later, Weidman had his chance to respond to Bisping while sitting in the very same seat the British fighter criticized him in just 14-days earlier.
"He's a nice guy, I really like him a lot," Weidman said of Bisping with an extreme tone of sarcasm. "You know what's funny about Bisping? I actually really like the guy, I got to meet him in that boring fight I had against Demian Maia, which I took on 10-days notice and had to cut 32 pounds in 10 days and he was there when I'm cutting weight and seen what I actually went through and for him to come out and discredit me like that, a little bit of a scumbag move."
Even though Weidman knows Bisping is just trying to stir the pot with his comments, he believes there is a hint of jealousy from Bisping. But beyond the personal insults, Weidman took issue with some other comments Bisping made in the same interview regarding a sparring session with Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold.
"Let me put it like this: I've sparred with Luke Rockhold recently and let's just say I'm the unofficial Strikeforce champion." Bisping said (read more here). "Sorry Luke, but these are the facts."
Weidman believes there is a line in the sand regarding what fighters should and should not discuss publicly. The Brit went too far in Weidman's mind, and now he wants to fight.
"... I think he's promoting himself, he has to discredit other people and especially when I'm ranked ahead of him in most of the rankings of course he's going to try and discredit me, but, you know what I didn't like and I saw when he came on, how he actually like broke man-code by actually mentioning about Luke Rockhold and his sparring, I don't like that, that kind of pisses me off.
"You don't -- never do that I don't care what you want to do. So, I really didn't like that and I would love to shut him up with that, but we'll see. It's either him or Anderson Silva; those are the two guys that would be exciting to fight."
Before any fight with Bisping can take place, "The Count" must first defeat Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC on FX 7 on Jan. 19, 2013. When asked if there were any fighters on his radar besides Bisping or the title-holder, Weidman referred to "The Phenom" as a potential opponent for his comeback.
"I guess if Belfort was to beat Bisping I would take that fight in a heartbeat," he said. "You know, I have a lot of respect for him and it would be great to have another big name guy who I could get in there with, so."
Before Weidman's injury, he was campaigning for a shot at UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Unfortunately for the native of New York, "The Spider" said he had no intention of fighting Weidman, likely because of the fact the Brazilian is looking for "money-fights" at this point and Weidman lacks the name recognition to pull big pay-per-view (PPV) numbers.
With that in mind, Weidman was asked what he could do to cement himself as the definitive No. 1 contender at 185-pounds beyond performing inside the Octagon. And while he joking pulled the "act more like Chael Sonnen" card every fighter seems to answer the question with, Weidman says has no intentions of talking his was into a title fight, he wants to earn it with his fists.
"I guess turn into Chael Sonnen a little bit," Weidman said with a laugh. "He was like my manager when I fought on FUEL on the post-fight show [in July], he was helping me out a little bit, giving me some tips on how to trash talk. But, I can't be Chael Sonnen, I really can't. I'm just going to be myself and eventually I'm going to be there.
"I think I already deserve [a title shot] but if it takes a couple more fights, that's fine."