LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – As long and crazy a ride as it’s been for the state of New York to finally get their first MMA event since 1995, the Chris Weidman road to UFC 205 might be even wackier.
Weidman was born in Baldwin, New York, a “census designated place” on Long Island just about 30 miles from Madison Square Garden. A wrestler from birth, he became highly decorated in high school, community college, and then eventually, at Hofstra University, where he was a two time All-American.
He made the transition to MMA in 2009, training with two of New York’s finest mixed martial artists — Ray Longo and former UFC champion Matt Serra. Weidman’s rise to the UFC was swift, but in many ways, under the radar. He was 4-0 before entering the UFC, where he reeled off five more wins before being granted the fight of a lifetime.
It was UFC 162 and Weidman was scheduled to fight one of the biggest stars in the history of the UFC, Anderson Silva. Wiedman was installed as a nearly 3:1 underdog, but KO’ed the Brazilian legend in the second round. However, many doubted Weidman’s win as Silva appeared to be showboating when Weidman connected and knocked him out, so a rematch was scheduled.
Again, Weidman was a 2:1 dog, this time winning based on a gruesome leg injury to Silva. Weidman had now won the belt, defended it, and still was never given the credit he believed he deserved.
He went on to defend the UFC Middleweight Championship two more times, beating two more Brazillian legends Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida.
All the while, Weidman was instilling himself as the face of legalizing MMA in the state of New York. He made countless appearances at the Capitol to have his voice heard, showed up at gyms all over the state, and even once found himself at Madison Square Garden itself to push for the sport’s legalization.
However, when MMA was finally legalized and the UFC announced it would be headed to MSG for UFC 205, Weidman’s name was nowhere to be found in bout agreements. Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson, Frankie Edgar, Jeremy Stephens, Tim Kennedy, and even a pair of Polish females were all on the card, but the one fighter who may have worked the hardest to ensure the UFC was there, was not.
That all changed about 24 hours before the big press conference at MSG. Weidman and UFC President Dana White couldn’t come to terms, so Weidman went to “his guy,” a man who had just sold his stake in the UFC, former owner Lorenzo Fertitta. The two old pals came to an agreement, and the face of MMA in New York got his first rightful spot on a card in New York in 22 years, and the first ever at America’s most recognized arena, Madison Square Garden.
Weidman will fight Yoel Romero, and will join Rashad Evans as the only fighters born in New York on the 13-fight card.
(New Yorkers Gian Villante and Lyman Good were scheduled to fight, but both were pulled from the card, Good due to a USADA violation and Villante for injury. Fellow Long Islander Al Iaquinta, who was initially linked to UFC 205, refused to fight due to a contract dispute with the UFC.)