Chris Weidman didn’t take too much time celebrating the arrival of professional mixed martial arts to New York.
A week after attending Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s MMA bill signing at Madison Square Garden, the former UFC middleweight champion says he is back to the grind of training camp ahead of his rematch with current belt holder Luke Rockhold.
“When I do stop and take a second and think about [MMA being legal in New York,] it’s an amazing feeling,” Weidman said. “But my focus every day is just for the next training session, recovering and being prepared for the next session.”
The Baldwin native was at Manhattan’s Pier 46 Thursday for a Reebok video shoot, exercising on the banks of the Hudson River as part of the company’s “Gym is Everywhere” campaign. Weidman signed a sponsorship deal with Reebok, which is also the UFC’s official outfitter, last October and doesn’t mind the extra work the arrangement brings during a fight camp, saying he feels fortunate to be in the situation.
Plus, the day at the pier was a welcome break from his normal ritual.
“It’s nice to get out of the gym and be outside and enjoy the nice weather,” Weidman said. “Hang out with good people, eat good food, get a little bit of a sweat in and get Reebok out there. Kind of makes it a lighter, more relaxed feel.”
Weidman made sure not to take things too lightly as he preps for his June 4 bout against Rockhold, the only man to beat him in his professional career. Rockhold has the belt, but Weidman’s status as challenger won’t change his preparation for the rematch.
“Whether I’m champion or not champion, I’ve got to go in there and beat this other guy. That’s all that matters,” Weidman said. “He doesn’t get to carry in the belt and use it in there against me.”
In their last meeting, Weidman was dethroned in the fourth round via TKO, but much of the damage was done in the third after an ill-advised kick allowed Rockhold to take the fight to the ground. While that moment was the biggest of the fight, Weidman isn’t focusing on the one mistake and is approaching the fight from a broader perspective.
“I’ve been watching a lot of tape with my last fight and Luke’s other fight,” Weidman said. “I’m very comfortable with all the things he does good. The goal is to get in there and be comfortable in every situation.”