The UFC Vegas 63 card has gotten a little shaken up this week, setting up some last-minute substitutions. One of the fill-ins is Dana White’s Contender Series alumn Josh Weems, who got to Las Vegas on Wednesday to fight in Saturday’s card on short notice.
When fighters get the call, things move fast, and that means canceling previously made plans, often involving their family. Fighting in this weekend’s event means that Weems will have to miss coaching his seven-year-old son’s football team, another role he took on short notice this year when the first coach quit. His wife and kids understand his career, however, and accepting the fight was never a question.
“It was a no-brainer, man,” he told Ryan Jarrell in an interview for All Access MMA. “We don’t care if it’s four days’ notice, we don’t care if it’s four hours’ notice, if I can make the weight and have the opportunity to provide a better future for my family, that’s my ultimate goal. Obviously, get my name out there, but I want to show my two young kids you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Josh Weems “Confident” in Fighting Christian Rodriguez on Four Days’ Notice
“I’m a confident character anyway,” he told AAMMA, “or I wouldn’t take a fight on four days’ notice.”
“I mean, I fought Roy Jones Jr.’s prodigy from Sweden on two days’ notice. He outweighed me by 25 pounds, he was 11-0 as a professional. I was actually called to judge the boxing matches, then they called me back the next day and said, ‘Hey, Roy Jones will offer you this amount of money’, and it was good money. I had never boxed professionally, we train in big gloves all the time.”
Weems (10-2-0) will be making his UFC debut against Rodriguez (7-1-0), replacing Garrett Armfield who was removed from the card this week due to injury. He enters as a +170 underdog, and understandably so since he didn’t go through any camp. The contest will be the first of a four-fight contract with the UFC, which didn’t even factor into his decision. “I guess I was just so ready to fight, I didn’t care,” he said.
“It’s just so much sweeter because the world’s not getting to see my potential on four days’ notice, but they’re going to see me. I feel like they’re gonna get a glimpse of that, and I’m going to put it all on the line. I feel like I’m going to test this kid. He’s never fought anybody like me. I move different, man. I just move different. Garrett Armfield is not a Josh Weems. He was getting ready for a completely different character.”
Josh Weems vs Christian Rodriguez Prediction
Armfield would have been a much different opponent for Rodriguez, who is surely not stoked about having to adapt at the last minute. Already coming off the first loss of his career, Rodriguez was favored slightly more against Armfield. Weems is coming off of consecutive submission wins with Fury FC this year, which may present an advantage. Whatever way Rodriguez wants to take the fight, however, Weems will be ready.
“I’ve got respect for Christian Rodriguez,” he said of his opponent. “He’s from a great school. I think he’s been in this sport for a long time.”
“His only loss is to a guy a weight class above him. Kudos to him, but, you know, he’s in my way. I feel like I’ve got some stuff for him that I’ve seen from his last fight, and we’ll work that. I’ve been in this sport for 10 years, so I’m a mixed martial artist. I’m not afraid to wrestle him. I’m not afraid to get him against the wall, make it ugly, or strike. You know, the kid’s a good striker, so we might have to mix it up and make him think twice about a shot and hurt him. That’s the game plan, man. Really put it on him.”
When all is said and done, Weems sees himself getting the victory on the ground in the second round, but may finish Rodriguez sooner if the opportunity is there. “I think if he makes a mistake in the first, I’ll catch it early. While we’re dry, I’ll take that neck home.”
Weems vs Rodriguez is the first fight on the preliminary card this Saturday at UFC Vegas 63. The event starts at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT on ESPN+.