The power is still out for several thousands, phone service is spotty, and the scope of the devastation is just starting to set in, but for the growing community of UFC athletes who make their home in the area hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy this week, the resilience they’ve displayed in the Octagon is already starting to show up as they regroup and rebuild.
Thankfully, the fighters and their families are safe and sound, with damage being done only to property that can be replaced. Of course, that’s little consolation to those who have lost homes they have worked their lives for while watching the boardwalks and beaches that have produced so many memories washed away in the space of a day.
Middleweight contender Chris Weidman saw much of his Long Island home destroyed Monday, and he weathered the storm himself after getting his wife and two children to safety. Yet by Wednesday, the affable rising star tweeted the following message: “Thx 4 the support! Could've been a lot worse, everything's replaceable there are a lot of people who r worse off. family is safe & healthy” See MMA Fighting video with Weidman post-hurricane
Now staying with his parents, Weidman is doing what most in the area are doing in the midst of the crisis – getting back to work while also helping others through their own losses. And it’s times like these where you usually see the best in human nature. Of course there are the lowlifes that decide to go looting or get in fistfights while sitting in endless gas station lines, but for the most part, situations such as this bring out the community spirit when it’s needed most.
Particularly devastated by the storm was the New Jersey shore region, with loss of power being the smallest inconvenience compared to the loss of lives, property and the destruction of some of the state’s most iconic sites, like the Seaside Heights rollercoaster and the boardwalk. Bricktown’s Nick Catone doesn’t just live in the region, but he owns a school there, Nick Catone MMA, and the academy is still without power.
But as Catone posted on Facebook Thursday, “My thoughts and prayers are out to those left in bad shape. No power, no heat, no phone is nothing to what many have lost.”
The same day, Catone’s fellow UFC fighter, middleweight Tom DeBlass, opened up his school – Ocean County BJJ - for all of Catone’s students, again showing the camaraderie among the fighters and among neighbors when it’s needed most. The next stop for DeBlass is China, as he battles Riki Fukuda on next week’s UFC on FUEL TV card.
Out of town teaching seminars in Florida when Sandy hit, former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra was thankfully safe with his family, and ready to get back to Long Island and his BJJ academies. The man who gave him his black belt, the legendary Renzo Gracie, was his usual positive self, despite having an academy in New York and a home in New Jersey. Thankfully, both emerged relatively unscathed. As he tweeted on Halloween: "at my house only one tree went down, we were lucky ;-)." And the day before?
“Classes resume tomorrow.”
Did you expect anything less from fighting New York and New Jersey residents?
Though some of the UFC family lost property and suffered damage due to Hurricane Sandy, everyone is healthy and beginning the rebuilding process. For updates, follow them on Twitter.
And more importantly, to donate to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, please visit