Former UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman will embark on a new phase of his career this weekend, as he moves up to 205lbs for the first time to take on dangerous Light-Heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC on ESPN 6.
Weidman has spoken about a potential move to 205lbs – a jump of 20lbs up from his usual 185lbs – for years now, dating back to his Middleweight title reign from 2013 to 2015. But it’s only now – after losing four of his past five fights – that ‘The All-American’ has chosen to make the jump.
Will he succeed? Only time will tell – but there’s no doubt that judging on history, it’s probably a risk worth taking. These 5 UFC fighters did the same thing, moving from a lower weight class into a higher one, and reaped the rewards.
#1 Robert Whittaker
Australia’s Robert Whittaker entered into the conscience of UFC fans through one of the more underrated editions of The Ultimate Fighter, the UK vs. Australia-themed Smashes of late 2012. Whittaker ended up winning the season at Welterweight, and at just 22 years old, most fans expected ‘The Reaper’ to have a bright future ahead of him.
Whittaker made good on his first post-TUF outing, defeating fellow reality show champion Colton Smith, but he soon ran into some problems. First, another former TUF champion in Court McGee was able to grind him out for a decision, and then in a somewhat embarrassing performance, Whittaker was knocked out by the pinpoint striking accuracy of Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
That loss left Whittaker with a lot to think about – and after a workmanlike win over Mike Rhodes set him back on track, he decided to change things up by moving up to Middleweight.
The Aussie hadn’t seemed to be the biggest 170lber, but the move to 185lbs seemed to suit him; he kept all the striking power he had at Welterweight, but suddenly gained a speed advantage over most of his opponents.
The results were immediate; Whittaker knocked out Clint Hester and Brad Tavares to kick off a run of 7 wins in a row at 185lbs that culminated in him defeating top contender Yoel Romero for the Interim UFC Middleweight title in July 2017.
Although Whittaker has since lost his title to Israel Adesanya, few would argue that his move up in weight was not a successful one.