Chris Weidman's rise to stardom has been well-documented.
From nagging shoulder injuries to Hurricane Sandy, New York's finest has overcome substantial obstacles in his career.
But as a bordering superstar with exceptional wrestling ability and well-rounded striking, Weidman has propelled beyond hardship to become the UFC middleweight champ.
The fact that the 29-year-old captured ultimate glory twice opposite the greatest fighter of all time in Anderson Silva simply adds to his magnificent resume.
With all of that said, the only man to ever defeat Silva inside of the Octagon knows that the party is just getting started. In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, "The All-American" sheds light on his immense future:
"I have a lot to learn and a lot of things I do in practice that I haven’t been comfortable enough to do in the Octagon yet. I haven’t shown my true self or true style yet. I’m excited to be able to do that over time. Experience is the main thing I’m working on."
As a fighter who has only been competing professionally for a few years, Weidman is pretty much still a rookie. So when he's able to gain that top-level experience that most guys in the sport rely on today, there's no telling how good he can be.
"I feel like it’s been a very long time, but in actuality it hasn’t been that long. But I feel like I’ve been doing this forever," he said. "I started in 2009 – that’s when I started training. I’ve had two surgeries where I was out for at least a year, another I was out three or four months, another that had me out three or four months … I’ve only actually been training for two or two and a half years, which is crazy. I’m very new, but it feels like forever."
New is actually what many fans and writers consider Weidman in a sport as storied and internationally appealing as MMA. That's why his back-to-back victories in 2013 over Silva boggled countless minds. For him to finish the GOAT in succession seems forever impossible.
But it was the way Weidman captured his two title victories over Silva that keep hungry doubters wanting more, with a flash knockout in the first fight and an infamous leg kick check in the second that left his opponent's limb detached.
However, as professional as he is, Weidman himself admits that wasn't necessarily the picture-perfect course of events.
"It’s not the way I’d have wanted the fight to end, for sure. It’s not the most perfect ending I imagined. To see Anderson go out like that, I don’t like to see that – in a lot of pain, leg snapped in two. I don’t want to do that to anybody, so I do feel bad about that," he said. "But I do know that I was the better fighter and I was going to finish the fight, regardless."
In any case, Weidman has one of the most promising futures in the sport. He's finally completely healthy, listens to his world-class team of coaches and ex-fighters, never seems to be overwhelmed in the cage and always knows how to win a fight regardless of where it goes.
So as he logs minutes and starts racking up title defenses, don't be surprised if the middleweight prince works his way up the pound-for-pound ladder.
Of course, some haters will remain in full force until the day he retires. That's just the way it is. But a future victory over Vitor Belfort later this year could in fact convert a handful of those ill-informed illusionists.
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