The UFC’s middleweight division has seen a altering of the guard over the previous 12 months, and former champion Chris Weidman discovered himself on the improper finish of it.

Can he get himself on the best facet of the adjustments which are occurring at gentle heavyweight?

That is the largest query going into Friday’s UFC Battle Night time essential occasion between Weidman (14-4) and undefeated 205-pound contender Dominick Reyes (11-0) inside Boston’s TD Backyard.

Friday’s UFC card in Boston options a number of intriguing storylines, together with Chris Weidman’s debut at gentle heavyweight as he faces the 11-Zero Dominick Reyes in the primary occasion. Within the co-main, Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez will meet 4 weeks after their combat on Sept. 21 was declared a no contest.

UFC Battle Night time: Reyes vs. Weidman
• Friday, Boston
Prelims: ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET
Major card: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET

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4 years in the past, Weidman was the UFC’s 185-pound champion and an rising business star. However a 1-Four report in his previous 5 appearances has him in search of a contemporary begin within the 205-pound division.

Weidman, 35, is not the one middleweight mainstay who has moved up. Former UFC champion Luke Rockhold and former Strikeforce titleholder Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza even have lately left the division on the heels of a wave of latest expertise within the division.

Weidman’s path to gentle heavyweight champion Jon Jones may very well be a brief one — it may very well be simply this one combat, truly — however it is not a simple path. The division is just like middleweight in that it has witnessed a burst of latest contenders. These contenders embrace younger expertise comparable to Reyes, Aleksandar Rakic, Johnny Walker and Corey Anderson.

Reyes is 5-Zero within the UFC and No. 7 within the ESPN gentle heavyweight rankings, and a win over a former middleweight champ would drastically raise his profile. Weidman already has the status, recognition and resume so as to add worth to a combat in opposition to Jones, and he may solely have to show he can beat considered one of this division’s fastest-rising contenders to get his shot at UFC gold. Excessive stakes for each.

ESPN Stats & Info

By the numbers

37: Takedowns within the UFC by Weidman, tying him with Thales Leites for probably the most all time by a middleweight. After all, Weidman’s combat on Friday is at gentle heavyweight, the place 4 fighters have had extra takedowns (Corey Anderson, 52; Rashad Evans, 50; Ryan Bader, 46; and Jon Jones, 40).

2.78: Strikes landed by Reyes within the UFC for each one absorbed, No. 1 amongst energetic gentle heavyweights and second all time, behind Alessio Sakara’s 3.24. Reyes is also No. 2 amongst energetic 205-pounders in strikes landed per minute (5.05 to Ion Cutelaba’s 5.27).

3: Profitable title defenses at middleweight by Weidman.

29:16: Complete combat time for Reyes in his first 9 profession outings. In his previous two bouts, he has gone the gap — a complete of 30 minutes within the cage.

0: Stoppage wins for Reyes, amongst his six knockouts and two submissions, which have lasted past the primary spherical.

Supply: ESPN Stats & Info analysis

A glance again

5 vs. 5

Dominick Reyes’ most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Volkan Oezdemir (SD, March 16, 2019)
Win: Ovince Saint Preux (UD, Oct. 6, 2018)
Win: Jared Cannonier (TKO1, Might 19, 2018)
Win: Jeremy Kimball (SUB1, Dec. 2, 2017)
Win: Joachim Christensen (TKO1, June 25, 2017)

Chris Weidman’s most up-to-date outcomes
Loss: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (KO3, Nov. 3, 2018)
Win: Kelvin Gastelum (SUB3, July 22, 2017)
Loss: Gegard Mousasi (TKO2, April 8, 2017)
Loss: Yoel Romero (KO3, Nov. 12, 2016)
Loss: Luke Rockhold (TKO4, Dec. 12, 2015)

Preventing phrases

“I do not want him to have any respect for me. This can be a combat. I am anticipating he’ll come on the market and do every thing he probably can to take me out. And I would not need something completely different. So I am not anticipating any respect.”
–Weidman, chatting with ESPN about Reyes

Movie research

Weidman at his greatest:

Brett Okamoto’s prediction

Reyes is the betting favourite for good purpose. That is his weight class, and the onus to regulate and discover a stage of consolation in it’s on Weidman. Regardless of the entire success (and highlights) Weidman has had on his toes, his surest path to victory has at all times been his grappling — and the way that may translate to this weight class is an enormous query. The favored decide right here more than likely will likely be Reyes, however I’ll lean with the expertise of Weidman in what may very well be the primary five-round combat of Reyes’ profession. Weidman by determination.

Ready within the wings

Jon Jones? Might it’s? Would a 12-Zero Reyes contemporary off a win over a struggling ex-middleweight champion be prepared for a shot on the champ? Would Weidman, with only one 205-pound win, be deserving? Keep tuned.

What else to search for … past the primary occasion

The remainder of the cardboard, co-main occasion down:
ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET
Males’s featherweight: Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens
Heavyweight: Greg Hardy vs. Ben Sosoli
Light-weight: Joe Lauzon vs. Jonathan Pearce
Girls’s flyweight: Maycee Barber vs. Gillian Robertson
Middleweight: Deron Winn vs. Darren Stewart
ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET
Males’s featherweight: Charles Rosa vs. Manny Bermudez
Girls’s flyweight: Molly McCann vs. Diana Belbita
Males’s featherweight: Kyle Bochniak vs. Sean Woodson
Males’s bantamweight: Randy Costa vs. Boston Salmon
Welterweight: Courtroom McGee vs. Sean Brady
Middleweight: Brendan Allen vs. Kevin Holland
Heavyweight: Daniel Spitz vs. Tanner Boser

Stephens vs. Rodriguez (II?): A rematch 15 seconds within the making

In case you blinked on Sept. 21 …

One factor you must find out about …

Jeremy Stephens: He has 18 knockdowns, tied with Anderson Silva for the second most in UFC historical past.

Yair Rodriguez: He is tied for the newest end in UFC historical past together with his fifth-round knockout of Chan Sung Jung in November 2018.

What’s going to we find out about Greg Hardy?

Plainly everybody has an unwavering opinion about Greg Hardy the person, however Greg Hardy the fighter stays a thriller. When the previous Professional Bowl defensive finish, whose NFL profession ended 4 years in the past following a home violence court docket case, steps in with Ben Sosoli on Friday, will probably be his fourth UFC bout and his seventh professional combat total. He has but to face an opponent able to shining a lightweight on how good he might be.

Sosoli (7-2, 1 NC), an Australian who will likely be making his UFC debut, is an alum of Dana White’s Contender Collection who has proven he can punch (6 KOs), however he is additionally very hittable himself. That latter half shouldn’t be a recipe for achievement in opposition to Hardy, who has scored first-round knockouts in all 5 of his victories.

Sosoli acknowledges what he’s up in opposition to. “He is fairly athletic from what I’ve seen,” he informed ESPN. “I do know he hits tremendous onerous, so I’ve to maintain my fingers up and my head transferring and be sensible.”

It is commonplace for a combat promotion to nurture the younger profession of a high-ceiling prospect, convey her or him alongside slowly, however with Hardy we’re creeping towards the crossroads. Think about the profession of prime heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou. By his second UFC combat, he was in with Curtis Blaydes. That was Ngannou’s seventh professional combat total. Stipe Miocic’s seventh professional combat was in opposition to harmful veteran Joey Beltran.

Now, each Ngannou and Miocic have been in fight sports activities earlier than beginning professional MMA, so their profession arcs will not be parallel to Hardy’s. However nonetheless, it is truthful to surprise: When is a career-defining problem coming for Hardy?