A look at the newly minted UFC champion, Chris Weidman

USA TODAY Sports

Chuck Mindenhall of MMA Fighting takes a look at the man behind the belt in his in-depth interview with current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

Who is Chris Weidman? Without Anderson Silva, without the belt, who is the man that sits atop the MMA world at 185 lbs? He beat what is possibly the greatest fighter our sport has ever seen, and yet, to most fans he's still something of an enigma; a guy who blitzed through the UFC's middleweight division in just over a year, and then spent a year on the shelf before winning the biggest fight of his life. Chuck Mindenhall of MMA Fighting took the time to visit the champ, and learn a little about his life leading up to and since his history making performance.

Chris Weidman's first real camp:

This champion will never be accused of being "organized." With Silva, believe it or not, Weidman had his first actual fight camp of his career. "Every fight to this point had been literally this haphazard training," his jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher told me a few days before at Renzo Gracie's in Manhattan. "He would come in here on a Monday, about a week or two before a fight, learn some moves and then go out and submit the guy."

Danaher points to Weidman's 2011 bout with Tom Lawlor as an example. He'd just started practicing the D'arce choke just days before trying it out on Lawlor in live action. His rehearsals came in the fights themselves. "He came back to the locker room and everybody was laughing that he pulled it off, and he just said, ‘that's how I roll,'" Danaher says.

Financial insecurity:

"He was essentially homeless," his coach Danaher says. "He was financially completely bankrupt. I remember I had to lend Chris thousands of dollars out of my own pocket just to keep him solvent while he's preparing to fight Silva. And his life was essentially in chaos. One day when people know the full story of what happened, I'm not kidding when I say this, it's like a goddamn Hollywood movie. It's Rocky Balboa. It's insane."

Weidman himself talks about his hardships before his strong left hand changed his portfolio.

"I could never do much," he says. "Everything was about not having money. We bought a dog, and we financed it - a $1,400 dog. We had no money, so me and my wife had to put our names together with our credit just to finance a dog. This was well before [the title fight with Silva], but it took like three years to pay it off, so I ended up paying like $3,800 for a $1,400 dog."

On living with the belt:

"It was in my car for a week, the car I don't use, just in there melting," he says. "But honestly, it's just wherever. Sometimes in my little office on the spare bed. Sometimes I forget where I put it."

There's a lot more in the article, including a story about Weidman showing a guy who claimed to be a "friend of a friend" around the gym without realizing the man was wearing an ankle monitor. And a great story about Weidman's hopes to bring a guest with him on his next trip to the octagon. Read the whole thing here, it's a rare look at a man who's been mostly out of the public eye before and after winning the middleweight title.

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