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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 favored against Cormier to highlight UFC 226 betting lines

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Stipe Miocic takes a significant size and reach advantage into a legacy fight against Daniel Cormier – and perhaps has more face to lose. Miocic is the -210 favorite with Cormier coming back at +170 in the co-main event on the UFC 226 betting lines, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

 

Miocic is on a streak of a record three heavyweight title defenses and Cormier, who is the light heavyweight title holder, will go into the Octagon at T-Mobil Arena in Paradise, Nevada on Saturday with a chance to become a two-weight world champion, a feat few other men have completed.

 

Holding a 7½-inch reach advantage over Cormier, Miocic may offer a combination of power, speed and boxing ability that Cormier hasn’t seen before. Cormier might rate better in the grappling department, which is a reason why it wouldn’t come as a shock if he pulled the upset, but Miocic’s edge in the stand-up game is certainly greater.

 

Miocic is also 35, still the typical peak period for a heavyweight, whereas Cormier, at age 39, might be at the point of his career where durability is becoming a factor, especially in a bout with a strong likelihood of going the full five rounds. At the end of the day, the figurative scales seem tipped in Miocic’s favor.

 

In the co-main event, Francis Ngannou (-370) is a hefty favorite against Derrick Lewis (+280) on the UFC 226 odds in a heavyweight matchup. Both are counter-punchers by nature, so it’s possible a feeling-out process takes the fight past Round 1, where Ngannou ended his last four victories. If the two keep the fight standing, then Ngannou should come out ahead against Lewis, whose last three losses have come by knockout or technical knockout.

 

Paul Felder (-155) took a fight on this card late, but is favored against Mike Perry (+125) in a  welterweight matchup. The 33-year-old Felder has scored three consecutive knockout victories whereas the 26-year-old Perry has lost his last two bouts, so it’s reasonable to think the elder fighter will be able to figure out an opponent who seems to have plateaued in his maturation process.

 

Michael Chiesa (-160) holds an edge in grappling technique over Anthony Pettis (+130) in a catchweight (157.5 pounds) matchup. Chiesa missed the cutoff weight for lightweight for this bout. Fighters who miss weight are 7-2 in the UFC in 2018. Chiesa’s route to victory involves getting the match to the ground or on the fence and grinding out a victory, making it worth considering taking him to win by decision, which was also the verdict in three of Pettis’s five defeats during his seven most recent fights.

 

And Gokhan Saki (-145), a converted kickboxer, has a striker-vs.-striker matchup against Khalil Rountree Jr. (+115) in a light heavyweight bout. Saki is an unknown as a grappler, but what is known about Rountree is that he has never landed a takedown in the UFC, so there is a strong likelihood of a high-volume striking matchup that Saki could end by knockout or technical knockout.

 

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Whittaker Faces Romero as Betting Favorite on UFC 225 Odds

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Robert Whittaker was not 100 percent physically when he defeated Yoel Romero in their first fight 11 months ago, which is something to keep in mind when sizing up the rematch on Saturday.

With the UFC middleweight championship at stake, Whittaker is a -220 favorite on the UFC 225 odds with Romero coming back at +190 in the headlining fight on the main card, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The card, which is one of the most stacked the promotion has had in some time if all goes off according to plan (that is, everyone makes weight) takes place at United Center in Chicago.

Whittaker, despite being encumbered by a leg injury, won by unanimous decision when the two squared off in the Octagon at UFC 213 in July 2017. The Australian fighter has not fought since then. At his peak, Whittaker is a well-rounded fighter, combining high-volume striking – especially to opponents’ heads – with a strong takedown defense.

The main question with the 41-year-old Romero is his cardio, especially since the UFC’s recently adopted changes to weigh-ins have created extra challenges for older fighters to make weight. In their first fight he attempted half as many strikes as Whittaker but landed them at a higher rate. However, in a close fight, volume has a favorable effect on the judges’ scorecards.

Whittaker has landed at least one knockdown in six of his 12 career UFC fights, while Romero has had at least one in six of his 11 starts in UFC and Strikeforce. That suggests there is potential for a stoppage.

In the co-main event, Colby Covington (-130) is a narrow, nominal favorite against Rafael dos Anjos (+110) as they vie for the interim welterweight title. Covington is a on five-fight win streak, but the past three were by unanimous decision as he bases his strategy around takedowns and grinding opponents.

However, if Dos Anjos can tap into his Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu background and keep Covington at bay with powerful kicks, he will stand a great chance at winning and giving backers a payoff. There’s a strong likelihood the matchup goes the duration.

Holly Holm (-210) is favored against UFC debutante Megan Anderson (+180) in what amounts to a women’s featherweight title eliminator. Holm, the former bantamweight champion, is 0-2 as a featherweight. The powerful but inexperienced-with-grappling Anderson, at 6-foot tall to Holm’s 5-foot-8, will come in with a significant reach advantage and that might help her with wearing down Holm.

The generation gap is hard to ignore in the heavyweight matchup between Tai Tuivasa (-250) and Andrei Arlovski (+210). Tuivasa, age 25, has won all seven of his pro fights by knockout or TKO, but the 39-year-old Arlovski will be his toughest opponent yet. Tuivasa believers should probably expect another quick knockout, while skeptics might look at a safe play on Arlovski dragging out the fight and testing the younger artist’s staying power.

In the opener on the main card, welterweight Mike Jackson (-200) is favored against CM Punk (+170) in a matchup that is as blank a slate as it gets, due to each man’s inexperience in UFC. CM Punk comes in with a deeper grappling background than Jackson and that could set him up for the upset in a fight that is highly likely to have an early stoppage.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.