#GegardMousasi got his wish. The UFC announced today that "The Dreamcatcher" will square off with former middleweight champion #ChrisWeidman, a fight Mousasi has been calling for for weeks now. This is going to be one hell of a fight. In fact, my only qualm with the fight itself is that, being a non-headliner on a pay-per-view, it won't be five rounds. The two 185-pound standouts could easily main-event a Fight Night or FOX card, but will instead bolster a numbered event. But as awesome as the scrap is sure to be, it is not a great matchup right now.
Despite being consecutive in the rankings, Mousasi (#5) and Weidman (#4) are on different trajectories right now. "The All-American" will try to rebound from back-to-back losses the next time he steps into the cage, having relinquished his title to #LukeRockhold in December 2015 before getting knocked out by current number one contender #YoelRomero in November. Mousasi, meanwhile, is on one of the most impressive tears of his illustrious career, running roughshod over the ranked #ThalesLeites, #ThiagoSantos, #VitorBelfort, and #UriahHall. The Mousasi-Weidman bout flies in the face of the usual matchmaking strategy of pairing up fighters coming off wins or those trying to bounce back from losses.
The Iranian-born Dutchman also might not gain as much he hopes to with a win over Weidman. The conundrum facing Mousasi is one many fighters encounter, particularly those facing someone on a losing-streak: the very act of beating their opponent weakens the victory's significance. If Weidman should fall, he will find himself on a three-fight skid. He will also have had neck surgery during that time frame. Fans and pundits will wonder if he might be shot, if the mounting injuries debilitated the once-indomitable middleweight. Mousasi will call for a title shot, but people will see his latest win and be unimpressed. Meanwhile, #JacareSouza and Rockhold wait in the wings.
As an aside, even if he loses, Weidman isn't necessarily "shot". He lost to Rockhold after throwing that infamous wheelkick left him badly out of position, and Rockhold capitalized by taking his back and bludgeoning him. And Romero is the most dynamic athlete in the division, capable of stunningly sudden finishes, evidenced by what he did to the Long Island native. Mousasi is dangerous and hitting his stride. A third loss in a row could be evidence of a Weidman decline, or it could be the result of tough matchups and bad luck.
Just as with Mousasi, the fight doesn't do Weidman many favors, either. Fighting a fellow top-five middleweight will give "The All-American" the chance to reinsert himself in the title picture sooner rather than later. I'm sure that is exactly what he wants. But I imagine with the way both men have been performing of late, Mousasi will be favored against him. Again, staring down the barrel of a three-fight slump is not a position Weidman wants to be after winning and defending the middleweight title three times. And he could very well find himself there, given how lethal and well-rounded Mousasi is.
A fighter of Weidman's caliber does not need to be coddled. But a matchup that would give him the opportunity to build himself back up after surgery and two devastating defeats would not be a bad thing. Fights with #DerekBrunson, #RobertWhittaker, and #KelvinGastelum would all make sense, and no one could say they were "gimme" matchups.
Perhaps Weidman will win, get himself another crack at the belt, and I'll look like a fool. I could live with that. And I, along with everyone else, will definitely be tuning in to #UFC210 to see the barnburner between these two. I just can't help but feel that both fighters' interests could have been better served with different opponents.