Chris Weidman has been fighting his entire life. From his early days of getting hazed by his older brother, Charlie, to his terrific collegiate wrestling career at Hofstra University, everything Weidman has worked towards came to fruition on July 6, 2013 at UFC 162. It’s where Weidman went toe-to-toe with one of the all-time greats in Anderson “The Spider” Silva, and emerged as the new UFC Middleweight Champion. His victory ended the longest title defense in UFC history, sent shockwaves through the MMA universe, and even got him a day named in his honor.
Weidman attributes his success to his tireless work ethic, rigorous training and fitness program, and the unwavering support of his family. When grilled about going up against Silva in their highly-anticipated rematch, the Baldwin, N.Y. native remains cool under fire and fails to become a prisoner of the moment. Weidman maintains his belief in his abilities, and is anything but nervous as the entire UFC world is already counting down the days until these two titans meet again on Dec. 28, 2013 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We’re roughly two weeks into the Chris Weidman era, and everyone is trying to find out who he really is. We caught up with the newly crowned champion to talk about what it takes to catch a spider in its own web, how to juggle fighting and family, and how he plans to do it all again in about five months time.
Interview by Adam Silvers (@silversurfer103)
It was a surreal feeling. I believed I could beat him, and I believed I could finish him, but to actually do it is an unbelievable feeling. It’s indescribable. UFC champion, it’s taken awhile to set in, but I’m starting to realize it now.
Were you noticing anything that Silva did as the fight went on that you were able to take advantage of?
I just wanted to keep the pressure on, keep walking forward. He was doing his taunting like he always does and I wanted to capitalize on it. It got annoying enough to the point where I really wanted to stop him from talking.
How did you prepare for Silva? What was your training and nutrition program leading up to the fight.
Eight weeks out we start going really hard, two to three workouts a day, technical stuff, kickboxing, boxing, karate, muay thai, and wrestling. Of course, there’s also sparring, and strength and conditioning. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of Monster Milk and other Cytosports products to get me through the training camp and keep my body strong. Monster Milk honestly is a huge part of my camp.
Why do you think Georges St-Pierre predicted you would win this fight? What does it mean to be held in such high regard?
He’s seen me fight and workout, and I think he saw I had the tools to beat Anderson Silva. Pierre is a fighter, probably one of the greatest of all time, and for him to say I can beat Silva is definitely pretty cool.
Why did you agree to a rematch so quickly?
I knew I was going to have to give him a rematch after I beat him. Before the fight I was saying I want to go out there and finish him, after I finish him we’re going to have an immediate rematch because he’s been such a dominant champion that he’s not going to have to fight other guys and start at the bottom to work his ass back to a title fight. He was going to be able to get the title fight right away. I have no problem giving him a rematch, I expected it, and that’s the fight I want.
He was going to be able to get the title fight right away, I have no problem giving him a rematch, I expected it, and that’s the fight I want.
Was Chris Weidman Day (Nassau County, N.Y) one of the coolest honors you’ve ever received?
Yeah, how can you beat that? I got a whole day named after me forever. It was pretty cool. I took my wife, my son, he has the same name as me, so when he’s growing up and going to highschool everyone will know who his dad was. That’s his day too, he gets to have his own special day.
How did you first get into MMA?
I was a wrestler my whole life, I was doing great with it, and I kind of feel like I was meant to do it. I love fighting, got molded into being a tough kid, and I just thought it was kind of a way to make money for my family. I want to do what I love to do. My brother Charlie beat me down countless times, suffocating me, shoving grass in my mouth, dropping weights on my head, cracked my skull. So I’ve had plenty of beatdowns.
What music do you like to listen to during training or before a bout?
I walk out to “Won’t Back Down,” with Tom Petty, that makes me feel calm and relaxed but gets me going. During training I honestly like all types of music, I can go from country all the way to rock, and rap. I don’t have something I hate to hear, I think techno is probably the one thing I don’t like that much.
Would you like to see MMA legalized in New York, a chance to fight in front of the home crowd?
Of course, it’s one of my dreams to do that. It’s crazy, it’s the only state it’s not legal in and we have two champions, me and Jon Jones. It’s just dirty politics, but it’s going to happen, we just have to get the vote on the floor. I was just with a whole bunch of N.Y. congressmen and senators, and they’re all for it. It’s just this guy, Sheldon Silver, who’s tied in with the unions in Vegas. It’s dirty politics but they have a lot of pressure on them to get it done, hopefully next year it’s going to get done.
I was just with a whole bunch of N.Y. congressmen and senators, and they’re all for it. It’s just this guy, Sheldon Silver, who’s tied in with the unions in Vegas.
You and Jon Jones are doing New York proud right now, are you guys boys?
I say what’s up to him when I see him, have a conversation. We’re not calling each other and talking to each other, or anything like that, but I say what’s up.
How did Hurricane Sandy affect your professional career, and your personal life outside the ring?
It did a lot, I had to take a lot of time off training to help with family and things like that. It was tough on my family and myself to get a lot of stuff done while training. It’s been an eight or ninth month thing where it’s just non-stop work, dealing with contractors and insurance people. It’s been annoying, but I don’t feel bad for myself, I think it made us a stronger family and me a better person. A day or two after the storm my wife and I used social media to get people to help out with the relief effort. We also started a clothing drive so people could drop off supplies at a church.
What are some of the challenges of raising a family and being a professional fighter?
The biggest challenge is it’s your job to work as hard as you possibly can every day, and that’s what I do. When I get to the gym I try to kill myself, so when I get out of the gym I’m physically and mentally exhausted. When you’re at home you really just want to take a nap and get your body right for training and competition, but you have your kids, and when they see you they want your energy. That’s the hardest part, I can’t spend as much time with my family, and I can’t give as much energy to my kids as I want.
Two weeks into the Chris Weidman era, what’s the hardest part about being a champion?
It’s just been non-stop media stuff, a lot more appearances. I’m enjoying the moment though, this is what I wanted, I wanted to be champion and I knew exactly what was going to come with it. I’m getting recognized everywhere I go now, my neighbors are always outside my house, kids are coming up to the door asking for autographs.
What are the challenges in rematching a great opponent like Anderson Silva? Are you going to change up your strategy or approach to the fight in any way?
No, I’m going to do the same thing. Just go out there and fight like it’s any other opponent, that was always my strategy. Try to switch it up, try to deceive him, when he thinks I’m doing something, I’m doing the other, that’s it. I’m going to look for the finish no matter where I am.