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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

Miocic the betting favorite against dos Santos on the UFC 211 odds

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Stipe Miocic lost his previous fight against Junior dos Santos, which gives him a point to prove in the co-main event at UFC 211 on Saturday.

Miocic is listed as the -140 favorite against dos Santos, the +110 underdog, in their UFC heavyweight betting matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The title fight will cap off the card at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The two went the distance in December 2014, but bettors should keep in mind that dos Santos needed nearly-perfect takedown defense to get the win by decision. Miocic will be conceding some quickness, but his well-honed grappling and ground-and-pound technique give him an excellent chance of avenging that defeat.

Miocic, being the champion instead of the challenger, might also have the psychological edge as the champion; he can pick his spots and avoid the inherent risk of a slugfest with an excellent technical fighter.

In the co-main event, reigning women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a -185 favorite on the UFC 211 betting lines against Jessica Andrade (+150). There’s a distinct possibility of this being a mostly stand-up fight, which would work in favor of Jedrzejczyk, who is taller and has the reach advantage against Andrade.

Jedrzejczyk’s penchant for pace and volume also means she’ll get tougher as a fight progresses. If Andrade is to win, it will likely have to be through a quick submission.

Jorge Masdival (-130) is a slight favorite against Demian Maia (even money) in a welterweight bout. Masdival is a superb striker and his recent TKO victories against Donald Cerrone and Jake Ellenberger put those skills on full display. However, Maia, with his aptitude for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, can take that away from an opponent, as he’s won six matches in a row. The ageless Brazilian has enough in the tank to go five rounds.

Frankie Edgar (-140) is favored against Yair Rodriguez (+110) in a featherweight match. The lines might reflect the boundless respect that Edgar commands among fight aficionados, but both the height (five inches to Rodriguez) and age (Rodriguez is 11 years younger) differences might be daunting for Edgar. Rodriguez’s reach advantage might negate the edge Edgar has in boxing and wrestling. Rodriguez is on an eight-match win streak, with four of his last six wins having come by decision.

Krzystof Jotko (-160) is the favorite against David Branch (+130) in a middleweight tilt that was bumped up due to a withdrawal. Jotko is 6-1 in the UFC. While his only loss was by submission, his most recent win against Thale Leites saw him display excellent sufficient defense, which might be a good omen in a matchup against a grappler such as Branch.

Underdogs have won in 40 of 84 fights, or 49 per cent, so far this year in the UFC.

 

UFC 2010 odds: Cormier slight underdog vs. Johnson on betting lines

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The notion that a knockout artist is generally more appealing than a wrestler in the UFC might play into the shifting odds for the co-main event for UFC 210.

Although he lost in their first light heavyweight title bout, Anthony (Rumble) Johnson has shifted to being the -125 favorite against -105 slight underdog Daniel Cormier, the reigning champion, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Their rematch will cap off the card  at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York on Saturday.

Cormier opened as a -120 favorite with Johnson at -110, but the latter, as one of the hardest hitters in the Octagon, constitutes the classic irresistible force. Johnson only needs one great shot to decide a fight and the law of averages would dictate that the more he sees of Cormier, the better his chance to land it.

That said, Cormier can get the fight to the mat and to the cage and force Johnson to expend a great amount of his energy getting free.

The co-main event is a veritable toss-up, with Gegard Mousasi listed at -120 on the UFC 210 betting lines against ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman, who has a price of -110. The lines might be a bit reputation-based, but Mousasi has won four consecutive fights whereas Weidman has lost his last two. Mousasi also has a methodical approach that should serve to keep him out of trouble against Weidman, who in both of his losses fatigued when he wasn’t able to dominate early.

Welterweight Patrick Côté is a -160 favorite against +130 underdog Thiago Alves, who’s something of an enigma due to a 17-month layoff. Both prefer the standup game, but the match might turn on who uses his wrestling effectively, and that’s more likely to be the bigger Côté. Alves, at age 33, still has the speed to deliver devastating kicks.

Coming off a loss in his last bout, lightweight Will Brooks is a -240 favorite against +190 underdog Charles Oliveira. While Oliveira’s failures to make weight as a featherweight are well documented, Brooks has had the strength to go up a weight class to welterweight. The favorite should have a wrestling and strength advantage that will serve to negate the aggression of Oliviera, who is a good striker.

Women’s strawweight grappler Cynthia Calvillo is a -270 favorite against +210 underdog Pearl Gonzalez, who is making her UFC debut. Calvillo, who also won at UFC 209, is a rising prospect who has finished three of her four opponents by submission since turning pro. The 30-year-old Gonzalez’s best qualities are her wrestling and submission game. With Calvillo’s relative inexperience, this bout has upset potential.

Through the first three months of the year, there were 27 underdog victories in 87 UFC bouts, or 31 percent, according to OddsShark.com. Underdogs won at a 36.8 percent rate in 2016 and 38.5 percent in 2017, so one should expect the current rate to rise over the course of the year.