Prior to making his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC Live: Sanchez vs Kampmann, Chris Weidman was considered one of the top American prospects in MMA. As a purple belt he competed at the 2009 ADCC and made it out of the first round before being defeated by Andre Galvao in an extremely close match. He's fought twice in the UFC and is currently 6-0 in his career.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - So before we get into the talk of the fight this weekend, I know that you've spent a lot of your career training with Matt Serra and Ray Longo. But this current fight, you broke out of that a bit with a trip to Alliance in San Diego. Are you just testing the waters or are you looking to travel a bit more with training?
Chris Weidman - Yeah, the thing is with that. I was going to meet with one of the sponsors, Bad Boy, so that was one of the reasons I went out there. On top of that I was supposed to go out and train with Phil Davis because we wrestled in college so we stayed in touch. But Phil wasn't there when I was out there. I was training with Alexander Gustafsson when I left to go out there. I'm always open to move around a bit where ever the good guys are but my home is definitely Ray Longo's and Matt Serra's.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - So when you started started out with Ray and Serra, you're a purple belt under Matt right? You actually competed in the Abu Dhabi's in 2009. Can you explain how you had success without really having those "credentials"?
Chris Weidman - I dunno. I think I had good teaching and I was more of a technical wrestler so I went into jiu jitsu with an open mind and tried to pick it up technically. It's a real technical sport. I went in there knowing I knew nothing and just went in there with an open mind. I think that good things happen when you do that.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - You bring up something that I've always wanted to ask somebody about. You said you were a technical wrestler. Can you explain the differences between technical wrestling like yourself and Phil Davis and the power wrestling that UFC fans are used to seeing?
Chris Weidman - Yeah, it just depends on the athlete usually. Sometimes guys have one or two moves that they're really good at. I had a wide arsenal of different techniques. I always looked to do something new. I never just stuck to one move. There's a lot of wrestlers that were just good at double legs and if you take them out of that zone and put them on a single leg they don't feel comfortable. I always felt pretty comfortable everywhere because I was putting myself in those positions throughout my career. I was comfortable trying to learn techniques from all positions. There's some guys who are really good at exploding through with double legs and there are guys that are better picking up a single leg and running the pipe. I think it usually depends on the person's body type. If he's explosive he's gonna run through ya. If he's not as explosive he's gonna sweep it out and use more technique.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Now speaking of wrestling, there's two different opinions. The first is that Mixed Martial Arts is hurting the American international wrestling program because most college wrestlers are seeing immediate money is in MMA. They don't want to train for the international scene. But then you have guys like Jordan Boroughs that are passing on Mixed Martial Arts to train for the Olympics. Where do you stand? Do you think that MMA has hurt wrestling or do you think it's helped wrestling?
Chris Weidman - I think with the international wrestling, it could hurt it. Even like me, I would be training 100% right now for the 2012 Olympics if I wasn't an MMA fighter. I'm just one case of a guy who would be wrestling and could be adding more fuel to the fire for Americans. I dunno. I think at the college level it's helping because guys want to wrestling in college and then come out and do MMA. It's tough to really say but I think overall right now as far as just speaking about international wrestling for America, it could be hurting it a little bit. A lot of those guys could be thinking there's money in MMA. I don't know. We'll see.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Now changing gears a little bit. Talking about your UFC career. It's been said time and time again about the "UFC jitters", the first time nervousness when you make the UFC debut. Did you have those when you faced Alessio Sakara?
Chris Weidman - I mean I was nervous just like any other fight. It was definitely pretty crazy. You're in the locker room and the sound system is blasting like I've never felt before. And you have Burt Watson yelling at you saying "This is what we're here for!" That's a little nerve wracking but when I got to the ring I treated it like any other competition. I was looking at him and we touch gloves and started fighting. I felt a little weird in the beginning. I don't know if it was the jitters or whatnot but I definitely was thinking too many things at one time. I think it go to me a little bit. I remember trying to throw a punch and take a shot at basically the same exact time and my body wasn't coordinated. My first takedown attempt slash punch in the UFC I looked ridiculous so I do think that had something to do with it.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - That fight, you did take it on short notice. Do you think that the nerves were from not having a full camp?
Chris Weidman - I think that was a huge part of it too. I had a rib injury so I didn't have any sparring at all. I had zero sparring in the two and a half week's notice that I had because I just didn't want to hurt my rib. I couldn't really do much so I didn't know where I'd stand. I didn't know it was not sparring on top of the UFC jitters and stuff like that. So it definitely played a factor.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Following up, you did go in with a rib injury and he is known for being a pretty hard puncher. Did you have a hard time not getting discouraged after the fight round? In between the first and second round you came out guns blazing and everything seemed to be running on all cylinders. Was that first round discouraging at all?
Chris Weidman - Not really. Ray Longo and Matt both thought I did good in that round. I knew it was a matter of time before I was gonna get the fight to the ground. I was sticking to my game plan. The goal was to eventually get him down but both Ray and Matt know I have good stand up too and it was a good experience being on my feet in that first round with Alessio Sakara. Every judge gave me that round even though I was on the feet where it was his dominant position. Going into the second round I felt pretty confident because I felt the best that Alessio Sakara had and I wasn't going anywhere so it gave me more confidence with my stand up and eventually my takedowns.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - I guess the last question regarding that fight and I guess your fights in general, are you somebody who game plans and watches film or do you go out and feel out the fight and just go out from there?
Chris Weidman - I pretty much just train as hard as I possibly can everyday and my attitude in wrestling and now in jiu jitsu tournaments and MMA is agressive. I'm very offensive. So I'm always going to be going forward no matter what the other guy is doing. I like to put pressure on and work a fast pace. One of the things I'm good at is my cardio. I look to get guys tired right away. Always looking to go forward and look for offensive moves.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Now this weekend you fight Tom Lawlor. You seem to be joking around with him a little bit on twitter. Is it easier to focus on a fight if you don't have any anger or animosity towards your opponent?
Chris Weidman - I dunno. I've never actually had any anger or animosity towards any of my opponents yet so I'm not 100% sure but I don't mind being friendly. It's a competition. I don't look at it like I'm going in there and it the street and the guy talked bad about my mom so I gotta go beat him up now. I'm not looking at it like that. Just stay calm and think of it as a competition. As much as we joke around and as much as we're friends, I'm 100% going out to win the fight anyway that I can. I'm not doing this just for myself, I'm also doing this for my family.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Alright, so let's change gears a little bit. Let's talk East Coast. You and Frankie Edgar have a lot of similarities. Both from the Tri-State area. You've both fought in Ring of Combat. Do you also have that East Coast chip on your shoulder where you've gotta be better than everyone else?
Chris Weidman - Yeah, I think Frankie Edgar is huge motivation for anyone from the East Coast. That guy shows so much heart in all of his fights and he's just a regular guy just like everyone else. If you're from the East Coast...New Jersey, New York...whatever. You can easily have a conversation with him. He's gonna be talking about the same things. It's gonna be a normal conversation just like with anyone else. I've trained with him and the way he works and his work ethic, his personality is just something to strive for. It's nice to have around and bit motivation for me.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Alright, so a few more questions. First one is how difficult is it for you cutting weight when you got all that great pizza around the corner?
Chris Weidman - It's definitely pretty damn hard. I always go pretty hard with my diet. I'm pretty clean pretty much my whole fight camp. But some guys are so strict with their diet and they refuse to cheat and I think it takes a toll on their body a little bit and their mentality. Before you know they're cheating like crazy and they mentally break. I always have little cheats here and there. I eat pretty healthy but if there's a cookie, I'll eat half a cookie just to keep me sane. I know it's not really gonna do anything to me so I'll have a little bit. I know I'm gonna work hard the next day. I'll have a slice of pizza here and there.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - So you're not gorging on Italian food with the guys from Serra/Longo?
Chris Weidman - Nah. But I'll have a slice here and there just to keep that crave away from me and then I'm done. I'll have that slice and it'll taste so good but then I'll feel like crap. If you eat crap you usually feel like crap. Then I'll wonder why I ate it. So I'll have a little bit but it's enough for me to learn my lesson for a couple days before I'm going back and eating another slice.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Awesome. Now as far as your fade...where do you think your fade ranks on a top 10 list of "Illest Fades" in MMA?
Chris Weidman - Hahahaha that's awesome. It think it's up there. I had a tape up for my last fight that was pretty crazy. The kid who cuts my hair, he cuts the hair of the Situation from Jersey Shore so I had a true true tape up. Last time was pretty good. This time I'm not gonna go that crazy. I'm gonna be a clean cut, good looking boy.
Matthew Roth (BloodyElbow.com) - Alright so your nickname is "the All American", what's your thoughts on the U-S-A chants that everyone does?
Chris Weidman - Ah yeah they did that when I fought Alessio Sakara and it was awesome. I thought I was gonna get booed being the new guy fighting a veteran like Alessio Sakara. I was prepared to get booed. So when they were chanting "USA! USA!" for me, that was awesome. I was a guest tweeter for when Brian Stann knocked out Jorge Santiago and I said on there that I'd give up my name to Brian Stann because he's a true war hero. I don't know if I'm gonna keep it. I did give up the nickname but everyone seems to want me to keep it.