"When I got into this sport I believed I could be the best in the world,
and I knew Anderson was in my weight class and he was number one." - Chris Weidman
Chris Weidman is tired, but he’s not crazy. Yet in the midst of a seemingly endless sea of interviews in New York to discuss his UFC middleweight title-winning effort against Anderson Silva last Saturday, the Long Islander has to think for a second when asked if the post-fight media rounds are tougher than the fight was.
“Right now, the interviews are,” he laughs. “Everyone’s been awesome, the UFC’s doing an awesome job putting it all together, the PR people are great, but I’m on like an hour’s sleep, and I need my eight to ten hours of sleep. I think adrenaline from the W is still keeping me up.”
That’s not surprising, because the adrenaline from Weidman’s stunning second round knockout of the all-time great in the main event of UFC 162 in Las Vegas still has the sports world buzzing. And if this is the price he has to pay for being the new champion, he’s fine with it.
“Yes, I have no problem taking it,” said Weidman, who had quietly and confidently predicted that he could beat Silva from the time he entered the UFC in 2011. Some people thought he was crazy, but he didn’t care.
“People were calling me crazy right before this fight, and they’re still calling me crazy after I said I’ll beat him again, so that’s just something I’ll have to deal with,” he chuckles. “But when I got into this sport I believed I could be the best in the world, and I knew Anderson was in my weight class and he was number one. And I wouldn’t have gotten into it if I didn’t think I had the potential to beat him. So I’ve envisioned fighting and beating him since Day One. It was confidence over the years that grew, and confidence comes from working hard every day.”
That wasn’t always the case with the former Hofstra University wrestler. And even though he was a two-time All-American and held victories over Phil Davis and Ryan Bader on the mat, he didn’t fulfill the potential his coaches believed he had.
“I beat myself so many times wrestling and gave myself excuses to lose,” he said. “And I’ve learned from that. When I was wrestling, I was talented and I had the potential of beating everybody, but I wouldn’t do it because I wasn’t the hardest working guy in the room. When I got to MMA, I realized that this was going to be for my family and it would be a disservice to them and a disservice to myself not to be the hardest working guy and not to make the most of my abilities. Since then, I’ve made it a habit to be the hardest working guy in the room every single day, and it’s paid off. I’m not beating myself ever again.”
And he hasn’t lost since his wrestling days, going 10-0 as a pro mixed martial artist, a slate that includes Saturday’s win over Silva, which saw him on the attack from the opening bell. Nearly submitting Silva on the ground in the first, Weidman then got involved in a striking match with the longtime 185-pound ruler, one that saw the Brazilian dropping his hands and taunting the New Yorker, daring him to hit his chin.
“I knew what he was doing,” said Weidman of Silva’s showboating. “We expected it: the talk, putting his hands down, making me feel like I’ve got nothing. But I knew where he was coming from. He’s trying to mentally defeat me, but I know what I have and I know what he’s worried about. But it did come to a point where I got agitated. I was like ‘I’m winning this fight, who do you think you are putting your hands down and talking still?’ I said enough is enough, and it ended up motivating to really go for the finish and have the confidence on my feet to go for it.”
Early in the second round, Silva took a shot to the chin and mockingly acted as if his legs were wobbled. Weidman went on the attack, missing a couple shots but then landed with a left to the jaw that sent Silva to the canvas. Weidman’s thoughts at the time?
“Finish him,” he recalled. “I gotta finish him and I can’t believe I just did that.”
He did, and despite visualizing his victory endless times in his head, the actual finish wasn’t exactly what he expected.
“I did believe in myself on my feet, but it was hard to justify that I’m gonna be just standing with him because I come from a wrestling background and I thought I had him beat in wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” he said. “But to go out there and knock him out was definitely pretty cool.”
As for a rematch with Silva, how does Weidman see that one going?
“Just like this one,” he replies. “I can’t tell you exactly how it ends, but I’m gonna be going for the finish the whole time.”