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How Chris Weidman’s lifestyle changes helped him prepare for UFC 194

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For most the temptation of indulging in celebrations after becoming a champion or winning an award is simply too strong to ignore. There is a certain pleasure that comes with grabbing a few adult beverages with the group of people who helped a person reach his or her goal.

But then there are some who understand when it’s time to put the drink down and get back to business in order to avoid a professional hangover.

In the case of UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, this is exactly the choice he’s made.

“As a champion, as an athlete, I do a lot of traveling and the more you create the habit of drinking everywhere you go, it’s not good for you. It breaks down your body. I think it causes injuries,” Weidman told me. “There are a lot of bad things that can happen, so I just tried to clean up my act and live a healthier lifestyle.”

The end of Weidman’s drinking days appeared to be a decision that was made in order to keep his weight down before his fight against Luke Rockhold on December 12th at UFC 194, but the champ quickly shot this notion down.

“The drinking thing didn’t really have anything to do with weight. I’m only going to be in this sport for so long. It’s going to be a quick trip in the grand scheme of life hopefully,” Weidman said. “So I’m just trying to make the most of it. I don’t want to look back and say that I was partying too much and maybe I could have reigned on top longer. I want to keep this reign on top as long as possible. I think that controlling my habits and having discipline will help.”

At the age of 31, Weidman is still reaching the peak of his fighting prime, which is something that he wants to prolong.

“I’m in my prime and I want my prime to last as long as possible,” he said. “And if being hungover and waking up tired is going to affect that and stop me from doing what I need to do, then I should focus on cleaning it up.”

But drinking wasn’t the only habit that the “All-American” wanted to clean up. There was a point in time when the amount of food he was putting in his body could reach extreme levels.

“If I was going to a pizzeria, I needed to get three different types of slices. I needed a chicken roll. I needed a spinach roll, or I felt like I wasn’t complete. I needed them. I just had these crazy habits. If I went to the bagel shop, I needed more than just one bagel. I’d need an egg everything bagel toasted with cream cheese and then I needed to get a bacon, egg and cheese.”

Due to the amount of food Weidman was consuming, his weight would balloon up so high that it was difficult to run around the block with his nephews.

“When Hurricane Sandy hit my house after I had shoulder surgery I was getting ready for a fight and I was at 235 pounds. I was trying to run with my nephews around my block and my lower back and calves were burning so bad I was like this is terrible. I can’t let this happen again,” Weidman said. ”For the last two and a half years, I haven’t gotten over 215. A lot of these other middleweights blow up to 215, 230, 235.”

Weidman admits that his wrestling background was a big proponent for his insane eating habits, but his indulgence also stemmed from his increasing bank account.

“I didn’t have that much money, so I wouldn’t be able to just get what I want if I was out with friends at lunch,” he said. “I was always worried about paying the bills and this and that, so finally when I had some money I said I need to eat and go hard.”

Weidman’s bank account will once again increase on Saturday night, but the only thing he’s concerned about is walking out of Las Vegas with the middleweight title, which means he’s going to have to defeat a formidable challenger in Rockhold.

The two are almost mirror images of each other. Rockhold is 6’3”, an inch taller than Weidman, but the champ has a slight reach advantage (78” to 77”). Rockhold’s wrestling and jiu jitsu are both extremely dangerous. Weidman has a black belt in jiu jitsu and was a two-time Division I All-American wrestler at Hofstra.

“He’s a little taller and I’m a little longer, but the difference is when I grab him, I’m going to be a whole different man than he is and if he doesn’t know that, he’s going to realize that,” Weidman said. “I think he’s heard stories, but when I get my hands on him, there is a big difference. I’m a bigger man than him.”

The parallels between the two aren’t just in the cage. When I asked Weidman if he believed Rockhold was the toughest fight of his career, he didn’t take long to respond.

“I’m going to finish him and I plan on completely dominating him.”

It was eerily close to what Rockhold said on the UFC 194 conference call: “I’m going to dominate him, and then I will finish him.”

Weidman wasn’t surprised to hear that his opponent delivered a similar answer.

“He copies everything I’ve ever done. He’s always been behind me throughout our whole careers,” Weidman said. “I’ve always been the number one prospect; he’s always been number two or three. I was the guy and he was always the guy behind the guy. So he’s been watching what I’ve been doing and what I’ve been saying for such a long time that he’s confused about who he even is. I’m going to give him a sense of reality.”

The champion is supremely confident going into Saturday, but also understands that defeating Rockhold isn’t going to be an easy task.

“I think he’s tough. He wants to press you with an aggressive style and I have that,” Weidman said. “He’s well-rounded and an open-minded learner because he’s well-rounded everywhere so you have to want to learn. I feel like I’m the same way. He’s got some tricky stuff and I have some tricky stuff.”

There won’t be any magic tricks on display from Chris Weidman at UFC 194 because he’s already made his unhealthy lifestyle disappear.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

UFC 214: Jones heavy favorite against Cormier in co-main event

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If one believes a long hiatus from the Octagon benefits a fighter’s mystique more than technique, then the price might be right on Daniel Cormier.

Ahead of the most fervently anticipated rematch in the company’s history, Jon Jones is a -260 favorite against the +200 underdog Cormier in the co-main event for UFC 214 on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The fight, which will top off a loaded main card at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, has been in the offing since about 30 seconds after Jones won an unanimous decision against Cormier early in 2015, but Jones’ doping suspension has prevented it from happening.

The prices have moved in Jones’ favor since he opened at -150 with Cormier coming back at +120. Before the layoff, Jones was perhaps the best fighter to ever grace the UFC and it’s understandable why fans believe he’ll use his long reach to keep Cormier at bay and get him in the clinch.

Cormier backers, though, can take heart in the belief that his takedown defense could be sharper than it was against Jones 2 1/2 years ago. The bottom line is it’s rare to get a champion at such a high price.

In the co-main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (-205) is favored against challenger Demian Maia (+165). Maia, who is plus money for the first time since 2014 (a bout that he lost to Rory MacDonald in a unanimous decision), is singleminded about getting a match to the mat in order to work toward a submission.

If Woodley can keep his focus on his takedown defense and keep the fight on their feet, his edge in athleticism and youth might prove to be the determining factor.

The prices for the women’s featherweight title fight between Cristiane (Cris Cyborg) Justino (-1100) and challenger Tonya Evinger (+650) underscore the difficulty Cyborg has finding a foe.  Cyborg has ended her last seven fights early, five in the first round. It might be better to pore over the odds on how many rounds Evinger, a solid wrestler, can hang in for during a fight that she accepted on relatively short notice.

Robbie Lawler (-160) is a slight favorite against Donald Cerrone (+130) in a twice-rescheduled welterweight matchup. It’s hard to know what to expect from Lawler, who’s been set back by injuries since his last fight against Woodley exactly 52 weeks ago. Cerrone is often vulnerable against left-handers such as Lawler, but takes an edge in stamina into what shapes up as an all-out brawl.

The main card starts off with a light heavyweight title eliminator, where Jimi Manuwa (-190) is favored against Volkan Oezdemir (+150). Manuwa, who is on a three-fight win streak, is the more developed and technically proficient of the two strikers. That might give him the edge against Oezdemir. It could be a quick resolution either way – Manuwa has 10 first-round knockouts in 17 pro fights, while Oezdemir has a powerful left hand and ample motivation to get a knockout and score a fight-of-the-night bonus.

Mayweather and McGregor end press tour with a bang in London

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Sometime before Floyd Mayweather Jr. stole Conor McGregor’s microphone and before McGregor walked behind Mayweather and pretended to spank him, it might have been hard to understand why all this was happening.

The four press conferences in four days. The insults and posturing. The clothes. Nobody seems to be talking about the 40-year boxing legend with increasingly public financial problems getting paid to fight an MMA star in his first-ever boxing match.

And that’s the whole point.

No matter what goes down on August 26, when Mayweather and McGregor finally put on boxing gloves and start punching each other, Friday’s press conference in London will live on in sports history.

Here are some of the best moments:

McGregor calls Mayweather’s body guards “Juice Head Turkeys”

McGregor has called out pretty much every member of Mayweather’s entourage this week, including his body guards. Earlier on the press tour, Mayweather ordered his security team to surround McGregor and some minor shoving ensued.

Apparently, the incident left a mark. McGregor had some choice words for those body guards on Friday and called them “juice head turkeys” from inside the ring.

Feel free to Google that expression, unless you’re offended by Thanksgiving arts and crafts or holiday recipes.

McGregor rubs Mayweather’s head

If McGregor were fighting, say, Adrian Beltre, this wouldn’t have gone down so smoothly.

But in one of the more revealing moments of the press conference, Mayweather  tried visibly not to laugh as McGregor rubbed his head and cracked some bald jokes. His best line might have been pointing out Mayweather’s fondness for wearing hats in public and asking him “What the [expletive] were you hiding under that thing?”

Mayweather does a chokehold in front of McGregor

McGregor’s most recent loss came against Nate Diaz in 2016, as the Irish fighter tapped out when Diaz put him in a rear naked choke-hold. Mayweather didn’t plan on letting McGregor forget that on Friday. Imitating the MMA move in front of his opponent, Mayweather even had his DJ cue up a few bars of Rich Gang’s 2013 single “Tapout.”

He then asked the decidedly pro-McGregor crowd why they decided to put their faith in “this quitter,” before asking them to get Nate Diaz on the phone.

“If you quit once, you quite twice,” Mayweather said. “If you quit twice, you quit three times. But on the fourth time, I’m going to knock you the [expletive] out.”