Chris Weidman said several times in the past few months that he wanted a rematch against Luke Rockhold, the man who took his UFC middleweight title from him and put him into the loss column for the first time in his career.
He got what he wanted.
Weidman will challenge Rockhold at UFC 199 on June 4 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
UFC president Dana White said last month that the two would fight again in June, but the specifics of the fight were not announced until Friday at a UFC news conference featuring the top-of-the-card fighters for upcoming bouts. Dominick Cruz also will defend his bantamweight title against Urijah Faber that same night in the co-main event.
“I just want to go out there and do what I know what I can do to him, and show the world who I really am and that wasn’t me that night,” Weidman told Newsday in January. “I really believe I’m on a different level than Luke. I was flipping him around the first round and I wasn’t even there.
“I didn’t make the most of it. I didn’t feel anything from him that really worries me.”
Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC) lost by technical knockout due to strikes in the fourth round at UFC 194 last December. Rockhold (15-2, 5-1) capitalized on a spinning back kick attempt by Weidman in the third round, taking him to the ground and throwing strikes for the final minute of the round. The bout nearly was stopped, but Weidman was able to defend himself enough to reach the bell and force a fourth round.
“We’re fighting on the West Coast and the belt’s staying on the West Coast,” Rockhold said Friday.
Weidman’s reign as champion lasted more than two years. He won the title in July 2013 when he knocked out Anderson Silva, considered the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
“I guess I left some bit of hope and led him to believe he still has a chance,” Rockhold said.
A heated exchange followed, as it did with nearly all the fight pairings on stage as the fighters were asked questions.
“I want you to be this confident my friend,” Weidman said. “Be this confident. I’m gonna rip your heart out.”