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“The Champ Challenge”

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Like his UFC 168 opponent Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman was attentive to the devoted fans who turned out for the open workout/press junket.

The UFC 168 Tour Stops in Miami – Chris Weidman Edition

See FULL ARTICLE here: MMAOWL.com

(Video below.)

As mentioned in our previous article about the UFC’s seven-day promotional whirlwind tour (spanning two continents intent on stirring up even further interest in the already much-anticipated UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2), their last U.S. stop was right down here in Miami, at 1 p.m. on Friday, September 27th. Fans and the MMA media converged on the Klispch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park to welcome UFC president Dana White, the consensus “Greatest of All Time,” Anderson “The Spider” Silva, and the man who turned his lights off and took his belt, current undefeated UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

As Silva was backstage being interviewed by the local media after his Brazilian jiu jitsu demo, the champion put on an entertaining show infused with humor and a surprise appearance from Miami Heat player Udonis Haslem, with whom Weidman is friends. After signing autographs for the dedicated fans who’d made the trip to see him and his opponent, he made his way to the back to face the throng of awaiting reporters.

The fans in attendance made up for their lack of numbers with fervent enthusiasm.

The fans in attendance made up for their lack of numbers with fervent enthusiasm.

What became evident almost immediately from the moment he entered the semicircle of microphone and camera-wielding journalists to commence with fielding questions (that started off with one from yours truly regarding Weidman’s ambitious and inventive “Champ Challenge” program) is that his confidence is high and his head is on straight.

“I’m getting the respect I expected,” he said of whether or not people were giving him the credit he deserved for dropping the man with the greatest aura of invincibility this side of Fedor Emilianenko (on account of Silva’s clowning often being suggested as the reason for his downfall — and not Weidman’s own combative acumen). “The way he acted in the fight is the way he acts in most of his fights. He’s doing it with the intent of trying to beat me. Try and get inside your head, make you feel insecure, make you feel you don’t belong in the cage with him. It just didn’t work for him that night.”

What’s more, he thinks he’ll do it this time around as well.

“I think that’s his style,” he said. “I think that’s what he does. If he doesn’t – if he comes at me with a traditional stance – I honestly think it’ll be an easier fight for me, so I think him putting his hands down probably benefits him in a lot of way.”

Numerous media outlets covered the event, interviewing fighters and fans alike. None were able to get the champ to open up the way MMA Owl did, however.

Numerous media outlets – like the one represented by the gentleman on the left – covered the event, interviewing fighters and fans alike. None were able to get the champ to open up the way MMA Owl did, however.

Much was made of Silva’s demeanor following his loss. Dejected, deflated and noncommittal, the former middleweight champion and pound-for-pound kingpin seemed disinterested in a rematch – at first. At Dana White’s insistence Silva eventually came around, but Weidman holds that he never considered another option but an immediate rematch.

“I wanted the rematch,” he said. “He wasn’t begging me for it. Dana wasn’t begging me for it. I was begging for it.”

White is already talking about the event topping the numbers UFC 100 brought in, and Weidman agrees with him.

“I think it has everything it needs to be – every type of ingredient in this recipe – for it to be the biggest fight ever,” he said. “Anderson Silva’s the greatest of all time. Nobody could ever imagine him losing and he gets knocked out, and his specialty is he’s a stand-up fighter.”

Weidman - literally - giving back to the fans.

Weidman – literally – giving back to the fans.

Weidman believes he has what it takes to get the job done again, that he’s pushed through Silva’s “mythical figure” status and isn’t worried as much about what will be done to him as he is about what he will be able to do come fight night and beyond. Though he isn’t looking past his UFC 168 opponent (and he’d be crazy to do so), he doesn’t believe, in the end, that it really is at all about any of his opponents.

“My goal honestly is, it’s a battle against myself,” he said. “It’s a battle to just create distance between me and the rest of the 185 pound division, to let everyone know in this fight that I’m not here to play games – I’m here to be the best, and for a long time – and I want everyone to have no confidence when they get in the cage with me.

 Here is some exclusive Q&A from MMA Owl:

Q: You have a program going on on through your website and on Facebook called “The Champ Challenge,” which encourages fans to join your training for the rematch with Anderson Silva. What prompted you to decide to do this and how closely are you participating? What can you tell us about it?
Weidman: It’s actually gonna be pretty huge. So we were gonna do the three months leading up to my fight – I think we’re gonna knock it down to two months leading up to my fight – but basically, through video blogs I’m gonna throw all my training up on there and you’re gonna be able to do the same exact workouts that I’m doing throughout my training camp. So you can do it to stay in shape or to get better at self-defense – whatever you wanna do – or if you’re an MMA fighter, get better at MMA fighting. So it’s gonna be pretty cool. It’s also gonna have nutrition. It’s gonna have a lot. It’s gonna be pretty cool.

Are you gonna have Ray Longo on there?
Ray Longo will be making an appearance.

He’s your striking coach – he’s the catalyst for the two biggest upsets in MMA history. What can you tell us about his teaching style towards those kinds of results?
Honestly, he’s just a great guy, a great guy who puts his heart into this. He’s doing it for all the right reasons. He doesn’t care about money. He’s in it just to see guys be successful and he’s amazing at what he does and he really, truly believes in his athletes, because he puts so much time into us. He’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t even be close to where I’m at without him.

You and Anderson are both family men, and despite the fact you’re looking at a life-altering fight in a few short months the of you seem to have a warm camaraderie nonetheless. Is there truly a switch that you can just hit, and if so what’s that kinda like for you?
Yeah, because I see it as, I don’t need to be angry to go into a fight. I never have been angry. My training partners, you know… John Valante – he’s in the UFC – we train together all the time. We’re best friends outside the cage, but when we get in that sparring session, there’s no excuses he’s gonna make to make me not go as hard as I can and try to mentally and physically break him each time we spar. It looks like I’m trying to kill the guy in there, but there’s no anger. It’s just very competitive. I’m just extremely competitive and I think it’s the best sport for overall competition.

You worked as a volunteer for the nonprofit “Staten Strong” following Hurricane Sandy. What was that experience like for you, in kind of rebuilding your community?
It’s awesome, you know, we did that on Staten Island and I’m from Long Island, so it’s a little different, but any time you get to help out the people that I was so close to – I was around all these guys, I was hit by it – so any time you’re able to help a situation that you were really close to, obviously it feels good to try to help. But they just really needed a lot of help. It’s sad, you know, what everybody’s still going through.

You’re ranked #1 middleweight by Sherdog and #5 Pound-for-Pound by ESPN, yet you’re still ranked below Silva in the UFC rankings in your weight class despite Jon Jones usurping his place on the UFC Pound-for-Pound rating. Do you believe that’s fair? How do you reconcile that?
I don’t really care about rankings, but yeah, it’s fair. Anderson Silva’s been on top for so long; he’s been in this sport a lot longer than me. He’s had some crazy fights and put on some amazing shows, so nah, he deserves it. I’m not fighting for that, you know. I have a lot to prove, still. I’m not thinking I just won this fight and now everyone has to bow down to me and I should be #1 Pound-for-Pound. I have a lot to prove and I’m excited to do that.

Anderson’s always been propped up as this great cerebral fighter who was able to get into his opponents’ heads, however looking back it seems the other way around, such as him shoulder-checking Sonnen or wearing a mask to the Belfort weight-in or visibly crying after the Nog win (against Brendan Shaub). Do you believe you have the edge both emotionally and psychologically and do you intend on using any of that against him?
I don’t’ know. I’m not thinking into it that much. That’s a good question.   

 UFC 168: Weidman vs. Silva 2 takes place Saturday, December 28 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Chris Weidman will be making his first middleweight title defense against former champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva, whom he defeated at UFC 162. Weidman is undefeated in his career at 10-0. Anderson Silva had, until then, successfully defended his title a record 10 times over 8 years before Weidman defeated him, ending arguably the greatest run in MMA history. Also on the card is the rematch between current The Ultimate Fightercoaches “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and Meisha Tate and a heavyweight bout between former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett  and #5-ranked contender Travis Browne. Tickets went on sale on Friday, September 27 through Ticketmaster.

 (All photos and videos were taken by – and are the property of – MMAOwl.com)

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