"There are always going to be doubters out there, and I’ve learned not
to put too much emphasis on positive feedback and negative feedback. I’m going to go out there and try to win this fight any way I
can." - Chris Weidman
Does it seem like a year since Chris Weidman shocked the world and won the UFC middleweight title, ending the remarkable winning streak of Anderson Silva in the process?
It doesn’t appear to be the case if you talk to the Long Islander, who is apparently unaffected by a night that altered his life – and the lives of his family – forever.
“I keep my circle small,” said Weidman. “I have the same people around me since the beginning, the same coaches, and I’ve got my family that I’m close to, so I keep good people around me and try to stay grounded and enjoy it.”
He has enjoyed the perks of being champion, and the positive things it’s brought. But despite stopping Silva twice in the past year – once by knockout last July and once due to injury in December – he has hinted at a lack of respect for his accomplishments.
Weidman said that detractors looked at his wins over the Brazilian superstar as flukes - one due to Silva dropping his hands while showboating and getting caught, the other because of a broken leg “The Spider” suffered when the “All-American” checked a kick.
Upon closer examination, neither theory holds much water, considering that Weidman was in control of both fights before the decisive finishes. The champion knows it too, so you have to wonder, is he the kind of fighter who needs to feel like the underdog in order to fight at his best?
“No,” he laughs. “I have enough motivation. I’ve got to support my family and I have goals. I want to be undefeated for a long time, hopefully forever, and end my career as one of the greatest of all-time and one of the most dominant champions around. I’ve got a lot of goals, and to do that I’ve got to keep winning, so I’ve got enough motivation.”
Taking on former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 175 in Las Vegas this Saturday, Weidman (11-0) is again tasked with a stylistic nightmare of a matchup in the crafty “Dragon,” whose karate-based style has been a riddle few have been able to successfully decipher.
For Weidman, that’s business as usual after facing Silva twice, but at the same time, he is well aware that Machida brings a whole new set of dilemmas to the table, so he’s prepared accordingly with a UFC vet who also helped him replicate Silva’s style in the past.
“I brought in (Stephen) “Wonderboy” Thompson and he can emulate his style perfectly,” said Weidman. “He comes from a karate background, he was 56-0 in kickboxing, so he helps me get used to that, but it is a lot different going against guys like that than your traditional guys. It’s different with the takedowns, the punching and kicking and everything is a little different, so it’s good that I have someone to emulate him a little bit.”
What may be more important for Weidman is to find the happy medium between putting the heat on Machida - who has seen three of his four losses come to wrestling-based fighters (Phil Davis, Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson – and not getting over aggressive and suffering the fate of wrestlers like Ryan Bader, Randy Couture, and Mark Munoz.
Has he been practicing a patient approach?
“I don’t think he’s getting away from me,” he laughs. “He’s not gonna make me impatient.”
He’s not making Weidman sweat either. Beating a fighter most consider to be the greatest of all-time can do that for your confidence, but even with a win on Saturday, which would give him three victories over two of the most unique styles in the sport, he’s not convinced that he will have seen it all by the time he made it to his 12th pro fight.
“Everybody has different styles and different things they’re bringing to the table, so yeah, these two guys are definitely unique, but the next guy is going to seem unique and different to me as well, no matter what,” said Weidman, who has the talent, the determination, and all that good stuff to stay on top of a tough division for a long time.
But what may allow him to one day challenge the lengthy reign of his predecessor is his attitude. He wants to be the best, he’s willing to put the work into reaching that goal, and when it comes down to it, he has no interest in putting stock in MMA myths, MMA math, praise, or derision. Chris Weidman just wants to be a fighter, and he’s a damn good one.
“There are always going to be doubters out there, and I’ve learned not to put too much emphasis on positive feedback and negative feedback,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and try to win this fight any way I can. I’m going to try and finish him and I won’t be happy unless I finish him. And with that, there are going to be more supporters and I’m sure there will still be doubters as well.”
“That can’t be one of my main motivating factors, but it is motivating.”