Chris Weidman: From parents’ basement to network TV

Maggie Hendricks

CHICAGO -- Ten months ago, Chris Weidman was living in his parents' basement with his wife and daughter. After winning three straight fights in the UFC, he will challenge Demian Maia on the UFC's second show on network television.

At Wednesday's open workouts for UFC on Fox 2, Weidman said he has not had time to sit back and think about all he's accomplished in such a short time.

"I really haven't set back to think about it all in a 10-month period. It started getting tough. Any amount of money at that point was going to get me to come," Weidman said.

When he took the fight with Alessio Sakara last March, he was on the verge of signing with Bellator. He even had dinner reservations to celebrate the signing, but gave himself more time to consider the contract. Waiting opened the door for the UFC to sign him.

By July, he had a decision over Sakara and a submission of Jesse Bongfeldt, and a new home for his wife and now two-year-old daughter Cassidy.

Weidman's spot on the card this weekend was just as surprising. When Mark Munoz was injured last week, the UFC had to scramble to create a card that would make people tune in to Fox. Michael Bisping was given the spot against Chael Sonnen, leaving a hole on the card to fight Maia. Weidman, who beat Tom Lawlor in November, was called.

"At the time, I was surprised, because I thought I was going to fight April 22. But I had a funny feeling that something was going to end up happening.

The bout against Maia was too good to pass up, even on 10 days notice.

"At first it was that I'm not going to fight him this week. I'm going to fight him eventually. March, April. Once I talked to my coach and decided that, they came back and said he doesn't want to leave this card. I got so excited to fight Maia at that point, I didn't care where or when."

His first concern was weight. Weidman said he was around 217 lbs. last week. Though he says that his weight is fine now, he had to turn down the comfort food his wife was cooking.

"First thing was my weight. My wife was making sloppy joes, and I was like, 'No more sloppy joes for me!' I headed to the gym, ate a spoonful of peanut butter, and that's it for me."

Beating Maia, an accomplished grappler, would push Weidman ever closer to a title shot. Though fighters taking bouts on short notice are often in a no-lose situation, Weidman sees this bout as a must-win.

"I don't see it [as no-lose]. I see it as I have to win this fight. If I win this fight, it puts me on a list of contenders, and closer to getting that belt."

His intention is not to just fight for the UFC middleweight belt, but also to fight in his home state of New York. Currently, MMA is illegal in New York.

"My main goal is obviously to not only get the belt, but fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. It would be a dream come true. They have to legalize it, but at the right time so I can be fighting on it for the belt."

Weidman hopes the shows on Fox will help change perceptions on fighters.

"We're 100 percent athletes. Just turn on the TV and watch us. Come meet us. We're not those guys 10 years ago who were perceived as brutal. We're athletes. Good guys. Trying to make a living for our families."

Long Island's Weidman hopes to start New York on its winning ways. As a New York Giants fan, Weidman wants to see his team win the Super Bowl.

"I like Tom Brady, he's a pretty good guy, but we're coming after him."

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