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Chris Weidman guarantees victory over Anderson Silva at UFC 162

Challenger says Fourth of July weekend card will usher in new era

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chris Weidman, left, punches Mark Munoz during the second round of a UFC on Fuel 4 Mixed Martial Arts middleweight bout in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Weidman won by technical knockout in the second round.

Beating the best fighter in the world once just isn’t enough.

Chris Weidman plans to do it twice. The middleweight division’s top contender sees his impending UFC 162 date against champion Anderson Silva on July 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena as just the beginning.

“His only option after I beat him is to retire or have a rematch with me,” Weidman said Wednesday. “I would think he would want the rematch. I’m not being cocky, but what other choice? Is he going to fight another 185er and start at the bottom? They’re not going to do that.”

With tickets set to go on sale Friday, the New York-based Weidman flew to Las Vegas to partake in a media tour this week. With the fight drawing closer, Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) didn’t dial down his outspokenness in regards to why he would become the one to finally beat Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC).

In fact, Weidman said his biggest concern was something unforeseen occurring to prevent the bout from happening in a couple months. When prodded on if that meant an injury to him or his opponent, Weidman smirked and sent Silva a message.

“I don’t want him to hear this interview and be like, ‘Oh that’s a good idea,’” he said. “Don’t use that, Anderson.”

Pre-fight trash talk has gotten to Silva in the past, most notably before his two victories against Chael Sonnen. Although Weidman won’t venture anywhere near as far as Sonnen — who frequently taunted the champion’s heritage and questioned his manhood — Silva only has himself to blame if the boasts make him uncomfortable.

Weidman never intended to put down Silva, whom he agrees is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, when he initially earned top-contender status with a knockout win over Mark Munoz last July. But Silva and his handlers started openly expressing that they didn’t like Weidman as an opponent.

As months passed, Weidman began to feel like he had to do something.

“The frustration started building up with me not getting that fight,” Weidman said. “It got to the point where I guess I had to be a little more vocal.”

Alas, Weidman suffered a shoulder injury that would have kept him from becoming Silva’s next opponent anyway. Plans were discussed for someone else to face Silva in his first middleweight title defense in a year.

The UFC promised the shot to Michael Bisping with a win, but Vitor Belfort knocked out “The Count” in January. Focus then shifted to light heavyweight Rashad Evans, who was scheduled to fight Antonio “Rogerio” Nogueira as a major favorite at UFC 156.

UFC President Dana White told Weidman either he or Evans would fight Silva next. Nogueira, sure enough, stunned Evans with a unanimous-decision victory to exhaust all the other options.

“As that fight was going on, I was like, ‘Whoa, I’m probably getting the fight,’” Weidman said. “But I was still like, ‘Who knows?’ I’ve gotten my hopes up a million times with Anderson. But now it’s a done deal, hopefully.”

Wanting the toughest challenge possible, Weidman was originally disappointed to find out the bout would take place in Las Vegas. He hoped he would have the opportunity to take Silva’s belt from him in his home country of Brazil.

Luckily for Weidman, if he lives up to his words, there’s always a second time.

“I see all the great things he does, but I focus on the things that I can expose in his game,” Weidman said. “There are a lot of things, not taking away from him, that I know I’m a lot better at.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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