After losing back-to-back fights – the first losses of his career – Chris Weidman (13-2) is ready for a comeback. He will face Gegard Mousasi at UFC 210 in Buffalo on April 8, and he will do so in the best shape of his life.
Watching Rocky III will do that to a fighter.
Yes, Weidman, 32, saw Rocky III six or seven weeks ago and decided change was needed. In that particular film, Rocky gets soft. He has fame and money, he doesn’t take his training seriously, and he loses to a meaner, hungrier fighter in Clubber Lang.
Weidman felt like Rocky. He decided that he needed time alone, that he needed time away from his wife and three kids so he could focus solely on his next fight.
But in the end, he couldn’t do it.
“I started almost tearing up,” Weidman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I got emotional. I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t leave my family. I love my family.’ On my way up, I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have that. But I had a family. I had my wife, and I had my kids. It was always a motivating thing for me. But I started second-guessing that because of the Rocky thing. I did change things.”
For example, Weidman started sleeping in the guest bedroom.
“I come home, I have no responsibilities other than work out, come home, guest room,” he said. “No TV in the room, there’s nothing. I’m reading books. My wife is not asking me for nothing. She’s sacrificing a whole lot. She realized how important this is to me, and it really brought me back to who I was and it reminded me of how I got here. It kind of brought me back to the roots. I was still able to have my family when I needed them – I loved them so much – I really couldn’t be the guy to leave them for eight weeks. It means more to me for them to be there than anything else. The way I did it with this guest-room thing is perfect. I’ve never been more motivated. I’ve never been more physically and spiritually and mentally prepared.”
Weidman began his career 13-0 before losing the UFC middleweight championship to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194. He then lost to Yoel Romero at UFC 205, despite dominating most of the fight.
“It’s the beautiful part of our game,” Weidman said. “In MMA, one mistake, one little mistake, could be the end of the fight – and unfortunately, I was on the receiving end that night.”
Romero caught Weidman with a knee to the face. It was over. Weidman looked far worse than he felt, as there was blood all over the octagon. Even worse, the fight was at Madison Square Garden.
Brandon Tierney felt that Weidman, a New York native, didn’t deserve that fate. The optics were too harsh for a fighter that great.
“I wasn’t thinking about that, but you just gave me chills thinking about it,” Weidman said. “That was the moment that I’ve been waiting for. I put so much time and effort trying to get MMA legalized in New York for so long. I was a New York guy, born and raised here, still live here, never left, college here, the whole nine. To finally have the opportunity to fight in front of my fans, in front of my people – when my whole career I’ve been in Jersey or the West Coast or in Canada or overseas – it was my moment to go out there and shine, and I made a mistake and lost it all.”
But now he wants it all back – and he thinks he can get it.
“It gives me the opportunity to have a platform now for a major comeback,” Weidman said. “You can’t get more glory than coming back from a terrible thing happening to you. Any athlete, when you go through a really tough time, you have a setback and people are doubting you, everything went wrong – you have an opportunity and you have some more motivation than ever before to prove these people wrong and to bring yourself back up – and I’m doing that. On April 8, I’m coming back. This is my story. These are two bad fights in a row. It’s no different than a guy having a bad football game two games in a row and people start writing him off. You got haters. The next game he could be the star. The good thing in football is (the next game) is literally a week later. In MMA, it could be a year. It could be two years. So these opinions hold on to you and they can shape you. But I don’t let people’s opinions and these isolated events shape my potential. I know where I’m at, I know my potential, my coaches know it, and I have the opportunity to come back. I’m real excited about that.”