Chris Weidman made an almost seamless transition into mixed martial arts from wrestling. The New York native has been wrestling since high school, and he took to it right away. Before he finished high school he was already the Nassau County champion and the state champion. In junior college, Weidman earned All American honors twice at Nassau Community College and then transferred to Hofstra University. At Hofstra was an All American both years. When he was finished with school, Weidman was invited to help some students from Matt and Nick Serra’s Jiu Jitsu school work on their wrestling. It didn’t take long for him to become good at BJJ either, as after only a few months he won his weight division and absolute division at Grapplers Quest.
Every wrestlers main goal is to make it to the olympic level, but when he had to make a choice between going into mixed martial arts or stay on course with trying for the olympic team, he chose MMA. Weidman was brought to the Ray Longo’s MMA academy where he was encouraged to train full time, and was brought in as the teams wrestling instructor.
Weidman’s mma career officially started in 2009 and it didn’t take long before insiders began noticing his abilities. Weidman took his first fight at Ring Of Combat 23 where he picked up the win via first round kimura. Since the win only took him a little over 90 seconds, Weidman was tapped to fight at the next show only two months later. It was there where he picked up his first technical knockout win, and again it was done in the first round. Weidman was invited to take on another future UFC fighter named Uriah Hall for the ROC middleweight title, and in less than 2 years he had his first MMA title. When Weidman defended his belt a few months later, that’s when the big organizations began calling him and encouraging him to sign. The word was out, Weidman was a legit fighter.
It was no surprise to anyone that Weidman chose to sign with the UFC, and in March of 2011 he made his debut against Alessio Sakara at UFC Live: Sanchez Va Kampmann. Weidman picked up his first win UFC win by unanimous decision, and the whole middleweight division was put on notice. Weidman finished the year with two more wins coming against Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 131 and Tom Lawlor at UFC 139, and both were first round submission wins. He picked up a Submission of the night bonus for his standing guillotine over Bongfeldt.
Weidman was rolling through journeymen and beginners easily, and the UFC decided it was time for a step up in competition. They matched him up with former number one contender, and BJJ savante, Demian Maia. While Weidman wouldn’t get the finish in the bout at UFC on FOX in Chicago, he was able to beat Maia by out grappling him for 3 rounds. Seven months later, Weidman would fight another wrestling standout named Mark Munoz. The winner would be next in line for UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Weidman was able to land an over hand elbow to the head of Munoz halfway through the second round, and after a barrage of punches he would get the W and the next crack at the title.
Silva Vs Weidman I
Weidman would fight SIlva at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, Nevada in the main event. Silva was riding a 7 year and 17 win winning streak headed into the bout. Weidman hadn’t fought in close to a year because of an injury and Hurricane Sandy, but an odd thing was happening amongst professional fighters. While most of them had been picking Silva to win over every other fighter, all of the sudden they were picking Weidman to win the fight. Silva was known for his awkward behavior in the octagon, and at times he would drop his hands and stick his chin out to taunt the other fighters. While this tactic had worked in his favor against other middleweights and light heavyweights, it wouldn’t go so well when he got into the ring with Weidman. Silva randomly dropped his hands and stuck out his chin for Weidman to hit him, and when Weidman missed Silva rolled his eyes pretending like he was wobbled from the strikes. While Silva was showboating, Weidman took a step forward and landed the shot heard around the world. Silva dropped to his back, and two strikes later the fight was waved off making him the new middleweight champion.
Weidman knew that he would have to beat Silva twice in order to win the title, and quickly agreed to a rematch at the press conference. The UFC announced that Weidman would face Silva at UFC 168, the annual New Years Card, on December 28. UFC President Dana White has gone on record saying that this could be the biggest card in UFC history.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor