“Something is burning on your stove,” Chris said, completely deadpan.
“What?” I blurted out, unsure if I heard him correctly through my sometimes-questionable Skype connection.
“It’s smoking – something is burning.” He gestured to my kitchen, which is visible behind me when I’m chatting from my home office. Of course, like an idiot, I gasped and turned my head, eliciting a hearty laugh from the UFC’s Middleweight Champion. And that’s what it’s like hanging with Chris Weidman.
After a long day of meeting with the press, the New York native spoke with me late in the afternoon, never seeming worn from what I’m sure was an exhausting day (he’d been on the Opie & Anthony show that morning, and had been making back-to-back appearances ever since). He smiled brightly, cracked jokes, answered my questions without hesitation, and put a nervous UFC fan girl at ease within moments.
I quickly forgot I was speaking with the undefeated, undisputed 185-lb. champion of the world – a man who twice defeated Anderson Silva (a fighter whom many consider the greatest mixed-martial artist of all time). Humble, and soft spoken, Chris Weidman could’ve been a neighbor I was chatting with in my backyard during a barbecue. And I believe a lot of his appeal is just that – the fact that he’s someone you want to hang out with and swap stories with over a beer. Unlike some title-holders who exude a sense of entitlement or arrogance, you’d never know that in the last year Weidman had become a celebrity, having solidified his place as one of the UFC’s premier fighters.
Once we exchanged pleasantries I got down to business, and started grilling the champ with some tough questions.
Read on to discover what he said to Anderson Silva during their first historic encounter (even after he knocked him out!), his secret weapons to counter Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida’s unique style during UFC 175 (his next title defense, coming up July 5th on Pay Per View) and of course, who he would fight if he had a time machine. Bet Opie & Anthony never thought to ask him that one.
Blake Northcott: I want to chat about your Middleweight Title defense at UFC 175, but first, there’s a question I’ve been dying to ask you. I know you’re probably sick of talking about Anderson Silva, but when you fought him the first time it seemed like he was talking to you a lot during the fight, and then when you knocked him out you said something back to him. What was he saying the whole time, and then what did you say after you won?
Chris Weidman: So in the first round I felt like I was hitting him a bunch, and he kept saying to me, “Come on…stand the fight! Stand the fight!” And it just didn’t make any sense to me. I am standing with you. At one point I put my hands down and he punched me, he was doing the same thing and we were just… it was weird. At the end of the round, I gave him a little hug..and he kissed me, remember?
BN: (laughs) Yeah.
CW: (laughs) On the cheek…then I walked the other way. And then he’s yelling across the cage at me (in between rounds) “Come on, stand the fight! No takedowns, no takedowns!” and I’m like, “Relax buddy, I’m going to be there in a minute. Take your break, I’ll be right there.” In the second round he was trying to taunt me and I knocked him out. I was getting really pissed off. I ran over to him and said, “You want help up? you want help up now? That’s what you get!” And then I had to calm myself down.
BN: Your second title defense is against Lyoto Machida, and it’s strange that leading up to this fight, I’m hearing critics say the exact same thing they were saying before both of your Anderson Silva fights: “Chris doesn’t want to stand with him.” This surprises me because against Anderson, it turned out that he was the one who had problems standing with you – especially in the second fight. Do you read the Internet and listen to podcasts – or do you just ignore the critics and the media all-together?
CW: I see things, but I don’t listen to podcasts or anything. I do see what people are saying. I get Google alerts and will see the titles…I don’t usually click them but like to see what’s going on out there. I’m used to all the negativity and doubters so none of that stuff really bothers me. I used to be like “Why do you think that?” and “Why are you saying that about me?” but now I’m over that.
BN: Machida is one of the rare UFC fighters who has a karate background, and his style is really unique. Do you bring in a karate expert to train with and try to mimic his style, and do you try to learn some karate yourself to counter him?
CW: Not many people know this: you’re actually the first person and I’ve been doing media all day but I’m going to tell this to you, but my background was shudokan karate, which I started in 5th grade to 7th grade. [laughs] But I do bring in an expert, Steven “Wonderboy” Thompson for the UFC. He was 56 and 0 in karate and kickboxing. He’s kind of a freak with that stuff and he emulates Machida down to a tee. So he’s really good.
BN: As good as Machida is, he has been finished a couple times before. When you’re preparing to fight him, do you ever watch his previous fights against Jon Jones and Shogun, and try to look for advantages?
CW: I haven’t watched really anything…oh wait, I take that back. Ray Longo, my coach, brought in the Shogun fight. It’s really quick – I think it’s a first round fight. I watched it once with him. But that’s the only fight I’ve seen so far. I do plan on watching more fights on him, but I’m just really focused on every day working hard for myself. I’m not really too worried about what he’s going to be doing. But yeah, I’m going to watch some stuff.
BN: Machida hasn’t been doing any trash-talking in your lead-up to the fight at UFC 175 – but recently Johny Hendricks was on a television show and suggested a super-fight between the two of you. Even though Dana White dismissed it immediately, it got people talking. Have you ever considered a super fight with Hendricks or maybe Jon Jones, and if Dana White offered you the chance would that interest you?
CW: I think as a fighter, you always want to fight good guys that are going to be a challenge. I’m not going to be calling out 170-pounders. If I’m going to call somebody out, it’s going to be a heavier guy, like Jon Jones. But it’s kind of stupid to talk about that stuff, because I have a lot more fights at 185. Jon Jones has more at 205, and Hendricks has more fights at 170. I don’t think he’s defended his belt yet, so he has some work to do. And so do I, so really talking about the fights is kind of pointless.
BN: When you look at the Middleweight Division right now, is there anyone you see as a dark horse – maybe someone lower in the ranks who could surprise people and become a contender for your title sooner or later?
CW: Nobody. Nope. Nobody can become a contender for my title (laughs). Umm..nope. Lyoto Machida (is next in line) – I just fight one guy at a time.
BN: All right, now it’s time for the lightning round.
What is your favorite movie?
CW: Good Will Hunting.
BN: What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
CW: Best book? There’s not too many of them…let me think of one I’ve read first…hang on (laughs). I’m going back to high school here! Well I have been reading some motivational books in the last few months, I just can’t remember the titles. Obviously I don’t read that much.
BN: Tell me one song on your iPod.
CW: Oh, a good song I’m listening to right now is “Live a Little”, by Dean Alexander. It’s pretty awesome. If you’re feeling down a little bit or looking for extra energy to amp you up, try that song out. It makes you feel great! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oygbSdY5ASE Yeah…put it on right now to make me feel good! (laughs) It’s been a long day of media.
BN: What’s the hardest you’ve ever hit someone, and what’s the hardest you’ve ever been hit?
CW: The hardest I’ve ever hit somebody would have to be sparring…drop them with a big shot to the head. A left hook and straight right. I’ve hit some guys with some big ones, in sparring where it’s pretty bad. The hardest I’ve ever been hit—? I’ve never been knocked out or anything, but in sparring I’ve been hit with some good shots over the years. Gian Villante, my training partner, he’s hit me a couple of times with some good ones.
BN: What’s the first rule of Fight Club?
CW: You don’t talk about training! You don’t talk about what happens in Fight Club. (Laughs)
BN: What’s the second rule of Fight Club?
CW: I don’t know…are you asking me from the movie? Or my fight club?
CW: Oh, well in my fight club it’s “don’t talk about training” – again.
BN: Who is the most bad-ass comic book superhero?
CW: Silver Surfer, Superman…I like those guys.
BN: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
CW: To fly…I’d dig flying.
BN: If you had a time machine and could fight anyone in history, who would it be?
CW: I’d want to fight Hitler. Go back in history and get into a one-on-one cage match with him.
BN: Thank you so much, and I can’t wait for UFC 175!
CW: Thank you, I appreciate it. Take care.
You can see UFC 175 – “Weidman vs. Machida,” live on Pay Per View – Saturday, July 5th. Check out the official UFC website for additional details. You can keep up with Chris Weidman on his official Twitter account, or on his website.
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter, or pick up her best-selling Sci-Fi/Superhero book Arena Mode on Amazon Kindle.
Blake previously interviewed YouTube sensation ComicBookGirl19 in She Makes Geek Chic and proved cosplay is on the rise with The 5 Hottest Trends of 2012’s Summer Fan Conventions.