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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

Kevin Lee Slight Favorite Over Michael Chiesa on UFC Fight Night 112 Odds

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Odds are inching toward parity in the matchup between Kevin Lee and Michael Chiesa that ranks as one of the most anticipated non-title fights of the year in the UFC.

Lee is the -140 betting favorite against the +110 underdog Chiesa at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in their lightweight division matchup that will headline UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City. The showdown between burgeoning lightweight division contenders will cap off the card at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.

Lee, who is 15-2 in the UFC promotion, rates the edge as a striker and also has a strong grappling base that originates from his days as a collegiate wrestler. The 24-year-old has won eight of his last nine bouts, including his four most recent, only one of which went to a decision.

Chiesa has a comparable 14-2 record, which includes a three-win streak with the past two by rear-naked chokes. The older of the two at age 29, he is a crafty scrambler, which probably is an underlying reason for why his price has come down slightly from +115. His work in the clinch could keep Lee from being able to fight on his own terms, which can often cause a younger fighter’s focus to fray.

Whoever wins, it should be a good one, and both will stay high up in the lightweight hierarchy.

The co-main event is a middleweight matchup, with Johny Hendricks listed as a strong -225 favorite on the UFC Fight Night 112 odds against Tim Boetsch (+175). It’s the second fight at the heavier weight class for Hendricks, who seems rejuvenated now that he no longer has to be concerned about cutting weight – and draining his cardiovascular capacity – during the final weeks of pre-fight training.

However, Hendricks’ popularity as an ex-welterweight champion and the way he won his middleweight debut against inconsistent Hector Lombard have driven his price toward a low rate of return.

If Hendricks drops his defense, that might give Boetsch the opening to use his strength and land some massive combinations. While it’s true Boetsch has lost five of his last eight fights, there’s a reason he keeps getting bookings.

Justine Kish (-105) is a small underdog against Felice Herrig (-125) in a women’s strawweight bout that seems likely go the distance, as both have a strong base in kickboxing while neither has big-time punching power. In a toss-up such as this, it might be wise to take the more seasoned fighter, Herrig.

And Dennis Siver (-210) is favored against fellow featherweight veteran BJ Penn (+170), in what is a “last stand” bout for each nearly 40-year-old fighter. Penn has been in the Octagon more recently than Siver, who hasn’t fought since 2014, and also has an edge in punching power and landing significant strikes. Siver might also be the level of fighter that the 38-year-old Penn can beat at this twilight stage of his career.

 

 

Aldo favored at home against Holloway in UFC 212 co-main event

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The scenario at UFC 212 seems like a win-win for Jose Aldo, since he’ll be on home soil against Max Holloway in a fight that reckons to unfold mostly in the stand-up.

Aldo, who’s been known to be choosy about which fights he takes, is set as a -150 betting favorite against the +120 underdog Holloway for their featherweight unification title bout at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The fight will cap off the card at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Aldo has been stopped only twice in 28 career fights, while Holloway has only one loss by submission over 20 fights. While the 30-year-old Aldo might be past his peak in speed, he thrives at slowly revealing his striking arsenal over the course of a fight and will have a slew of time to do so, due to the reduced threat of a takedown.

Holloway, who comes in as the interim champion, has an edge in reach and will certainly go on the offensive. Holloway, who excels at backing up opponents and throwing combinations with his hands, will land some significant strikes. Whether that’s enough to earn a decision remains to be seen.

All 12 scheduled fights feature Brazilian fighters. Since the start of 2016, Brazilian fighters competing on home soil in the UFC are 14-6 against foreign opponents, but only four were plus-money underdogs.

In the co-main event, rising women’s strawweight star Claudia Gadelha (-350) is a favorite against Karolina Kowalkiewicz (+265) on the UFC 212 betting lines. Gadelha has a well-developed takedown defense that might help her with taking the fight to the ground and negating Kowalkiewicz’s striking.

In keeping with the night’s Hawaiian vs. Brazilian theme, Yancy Medeiros (-143) is favored against Erick Silva (+123) in a welterweight bout. Silva picks his spots with his striking and is very accurate, whereas Medeiros is a volume striker to the extent that he lands an above-average number of strikes per minute, but connects less than 35 per cent of time. Playing a patient game could help Silva get the win.

Vitor Belfort (-160) is favored against fellow veteran middleweight Nate Marquardt (+140) even though Belfort has lost three of his last five fights by stoppage (and the other was a no-contest). It shapes up as a tilt where the fighter who lands the first big shot will probably win. Marquardt, 3-7 in his last 10 fights, still has some striking ability and a bit of durability.

Based on each man’s brief track record in the UFC, Paulo Henrique Costa (-280) and Oluwale Bamgbose (+240) could have a quick resolution. Costa is not only 9-0, but none of his fights have gone beyond the first round. All six of Bamgbose’s wins have been decided in Round 1. Bamgbose has shown more vulnerability to strikes, meaning Costa is likely to receive some openings.