No longer undefeated, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman believes his loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194 has actually endeared him to fans.
"You've got to have thick skin," Weidman told UFC commentators Kenny Florian and Jon Anik on their podcast. "Coming off all my wins I had a lot of criticism. It's funny, after losing I think I've had less criticism. Every time I won there were so many excuses why. When I lost I guess people saw the human side and now maybe I'm more relatable."
Weidman challenges Rockhold in an immediate rematch June 4 at UFC 199 in Los Angeles, California. The New Yorker feels fortunate for the opportunity but isn't feeling any added pressure.
"Not really," Weidman said. "I do feel more free because I was caught in a way of doing things. My 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' type attitude might have held me back and made me complacent. Now that I lost, it just makes me feel more free to change and do different things to make myself a better fighter. Before I was like, 'It's working doing what I'm doing, so why travel to New York City to train with this guy or go to New Jersey to go with that guy? I'm good with what I'm doing.' Now I'm making those moves and doing whatever I can to make sure I'm handling my business.
"I'm just really trying to take myself out of my comfort zone. I got real comfortable just doing my normal schedule. Now I'm switching it up, going with different people. Just putting myself in an environment of 'un-comfortability' to help me grow. I'm already seeing success with that."
Last year Weidman kicked off a shortened six-week training camp by breaking two bones in his foot. He hoped the injury would be healed a week out from the fight but was told by his pediatrist that his broken cuboid bone could take a year to heal properly.
"When you get hurt it's hard to judge when it's the right time to pull out of a fight," said Weidman. "I knew this was such a big fight that I wasn't going to back out of it. I fought with so many other injuries before so I had the confidence to think I could get through it and beat him, but obviously I was wrong. I went out there to win and I lost so all credit to Luke.
"Obviously you're hurt, but I think the biggest thing in training was not being able to get my cardio to where I needed to be to feel confident to go five rounds. That might have been the hardest thing that held me back."
Weidman faces Rockhold June 4 in the main event at UFC 199 from The Forum in Inglewood, California.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Jones in jail. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was arrested Tuesday for a probation violation stemming from his traffic stop for "drag racing" last Thursday.
'We are taking this very seriously.' Jon Jones' management team weighs in on his recent arrest.
‘I felt like s**t about it.' CM Punk discusses his recent back surgery that delayed his UFC debut.
Round-trip. Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp says Cris Cyborg could still return to Invicta and defend her featherweight title.
Taking shape. Johny Hendricks vs. Kelvin Gastelum and Joe Lauzon vs. Diego Sanchez are in the works for UFC 200 in July.
Miesha Tate making the rounds at ESPN.
Joe Rogan talks McGregor-Diaz II and Cris Cyborg joining the UFC.
Staredowns from UFC 198 media day.
Schaub and Florian talk McGregor-Diaz at 155 vs. 170 pounds. (full podcast here)
What to watch at Bellator 152.
Barnett, Quadros, Schiavello. They're all here.
If I Did It: Jon Jones pulled over by the APD, Clinton gets her Bern on
Motus V with Nick The Tooth - Tooth answers questions and breaks down the diet that he used to lose 40 pounds and keep it off for seven years and counting
See how the pros reacted to Jon Jones' arrest Tuesday.
More Jones reactions.
While everyone is freaking out about Jon Jones, it lets me know he's READY! Embrace the dark side #UFC197— Brendan Schaub (@BrendanSchaub) March 29, 2016
Cormier is somewhere still being booed by fans. #— Will Brooks (@illwillbrooks86) March 29, 2016
@JonnyBones better move outta Manitowoc County before they frame him for murder. @arielhelwani @NewYorkRic @MMAFighting— phil baroni (@philbaroni) March 29, 2016
@TWooodley I think that the officer clearly had a negative perspective of Jon & wanted to prove a point. Jon shudve use better words tho..— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) March 29, 2016
I don't get what Jon Jones was arrested for. Freedom of speech? Can't have tickets on probation? I support police, but that cop was a punk.— Johnny Hollywood (@HollywoodCase) March 29, 2016
So what if the cop was kinda smartass? Jones was bein a dick+ he's a repeat offender. Cop even let Jones go w/o breathalyzer, search etc— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) March 29, 2016
That's not racism & if he wants cops to leave him alone then he should STOP BREAKING THE LAW. His own fault he was in that situation— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) March 29, 2016
Would have bought a ticket.
Good morning watching @Showtimepettis with @Cowboycerrone @JacksonWinkMMA @dukeroufus pic.twitter.com/TZO9FlGkPk— Israel Martinez (@IzzyStyle) March 29, 2016
I'm pretty sure the entire gym, no one sparred they just stood around the cage and watched... https://t.co/dusUVLf7uW— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) March 29, 2016
Iron sharpens Iron!!!!! Haven't had this much fun training in a long time... @IzzyStyle... https://t.co/XdbHgbEGvn— Anthony Pettis (@Showtimepettis) March 29, 2016
Brothers @showtimepettis and @sergiopettis signed The Wall Of Fame!!! Who is next? #teamja... https://t.co/NITnKcgGrQ pic.twitter.com/0Fo1qWbLRz— JacksonWinkMMA (@JacksonWinkMMA) March 29, 2016
Business doesn't sleep. It simply blinks.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 29, 2016
Stay ready always.
@xSAVExHARLEYx she is the only one that wanted to fight Cyborg. Leslie begged for it. #respect @LeslieSmith_GF— Dana White (@danawhite) March 28, 2016
@CatZingano What do you think about Dana saying Leslie Smith was the "only" one who wanted the Cyborg fight?— The People's MMA (@ThePeoplesMMA) March 29, 2016
I would say that is inaccurate. https://t.co/7lI6oV9OrM— Alpha Cat Zingano (@CatZingano) March 29, 2016
Does the curse apply?
KONKURS KONKURS na moim Fan Page na Facebook Do wygrania najnowsze gry UFC 2 w limitowan... https://t.co/ZgBJM0kFEl pic.twitter.com/rk0Wbb51rR— Joanna Jedrzejczyk (@joannamma) March 29, 2016
Did the cop escalate?
Colin Cowherd: The cop escalated the situation with Jon "Bones" Jones. #HerdHerePosted by The Herd on Tuesday, March 29, 2016
WSOP UPDATE: Now have 643,000 chips... 17 left out of 754 entries... #ITSTIMETOWIN on the "Green Felt Battlefield Of Champions!!! #WSOP #UFC #ufc #ITSTIMEPosted by Bruce Buffer on Monday, March 28, 2016
Welcome to the majors.
Cris Cyborg finally gets booked in a UFC bout, gets listed as a dude. You can't make this up. #MMA #UFC pic.twitter.com/edoGD77xZC— Jesse Scheckner (@JesseScheckner) March 29, 2016
Announced yesterday (Mar. 29 2016)
Tom Breese vs. Sean Strickland at UFC 199: Rockhold vs. Weidman
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Johny Hendricks at UFC 200
Carla Esparza vs. Juliana Lima at UFC 197
Blagoi Ivanov vs. Josh Copeland at WSOF 31
Steve Bosse vs. Sean O'Connell at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Sam Alvey vs. Elias Theodorou at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Misha Cirkunov vs. Ion Cutelaba at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Thibault Gouti at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Tamdan McCrory at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Colby Covington vs. Alex Garcia at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.