Weidman Plans to Meet Hype with Substance

By Brian Knapp Sep 9, 2010
Chris Weidman resides at the corner of pedigree and potential. Just two fights into his professional mixed martial arts career, many view him as the top middleweight prospect in the sport.

Those expectations will be put to the test when Weidman meets fellow unbeaten prospect Uriah Hall for the Ring of Combat middleweight championship at Ring of Combat 31 on Sept. 24 at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. A disciple of Daniel “Tiger” Schulmann, Hall has finished all four of his foes with strikes and presents a unique challenge for Weidman.

“He’s an athletic stand-up fighter,” Weidman said. “That’s the biggest threat. I haven’t gone against anyone like that yet.”

Groomed under former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and revered striking guru Ray Longo, Weidman has shown a startling aptitude for submissions early in his development. Inside three months, he won his first Grappler’s Quest tournament -- his weight class and the absolute division -- and submitted all 13 of his opponents in doing so. What’s more, Weidman qualified for the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships after eight months of formal training and pushed seven-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Andre Galvao to the limit in a memorable match. Though he lost on points, he emerged as one of the tournament’s breakout stars.

“I went in there confident,” Weidman said. “I knew I could hang in there with really good guys.”

A four-time collegiate wrestling All-American at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University, Weidman defeated “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 light heavyweight winner Ryan Bader as a senior. He tried out for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, only to have a rib injury interrupt those plans. Weidman has transitioned seamlessly to mixed martial arts, though he has not fought since he stopped Mike Stewart on first-round punches more than a year ago.

Following his appearance in the ADCC tournament, Weidman underwent surgery to repair damage to his hand on Dec. 1. He was in a cast for eight weeks. The time away was far from uneventful, as Weidman finished his graduate work at Hofstra and welcomed the birth of his first child, a daughter named Cassidy. Fatherhood changed him in an instant.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Weidman said. “She’s definitely something for me to fight for. God gave me all these abilities, and if I don’t use them as I should, I’m hurting not only myself but my family.”

His showdown with Hall serves as a chance to climb another rung on the ladder and an opportunity for Weidman to re-introduce himself to fans and promoters.

“I think it’s really important,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for me to get into everybody’s mind again. With the long layoff, I think people forgot about me.”

Though many peg him for future superstardom, Weidman seems content to meet the opportunities as they come. He does not want to hurry the process.

“Obviously, I’d love to be in a bigger promotion, but I don’t want to put a timetable out there,” he said. “I’d rather keep focusing on one fight at a time.”
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