Just a few weeks away from his return to action on Saturday, former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman admits he was starting to panic a little bit when he stepped on the scale.
While cutting down to 185 pounds was never easy, the 36-year-old veteran had it down to a science after preparing for so many fights in that weight class. Following a brief stop at light heavyweight, Weidman decided that he would return to his old stomping grounds where it felt like he could make the most impact while hopefully taking another run at the title.
After a stutter stop that delayed his return in May due to the coronavirus pandemic, Weidman was booked for a fight against Omari Akhmedov and his constant training routine continued after first starting his camp earlier this year.
Unfortunately for all the work he was doing, Weidman says his body wasn’t reacting the same way it had for all of his past fights at middleweight.
“That’s been one of my main focuses during this whole thing is trying to get my weight under control,” Weidman told MMA Fighting. “To be honest, finally it’s starting to come down. It wasn’t coming down like it used to. The last time I fought at 185 was against ‘Jacare’ (Ronaldo Souza) back in 2018 so it’s been a while. I got older and my body hasn’t been used to making that cut and it wasn’t responding. So I was a little scared.
“I’ve been continuously training thinking I’m fighting in May so I’ve been training, eating healthy that whole time and my weight was kind of hanging around 218 to 225 [pounds]. Then I thought as soon as I started dieting and getting really serious with my meals and working out two or three times a day hard, I’ll be all right. I started doing that and my weight really wouldn’t come under 215. I was eating super healthy and working out really hard and usually my weight just comes down.”
According to Weidman, his past weight cuts usually involved a similar routine where the pounds would just start melting off his body as he upped his training schedule along with a stricter diet.
This time around, however, the New York native says at the beginning of his most recent training camp that the weight wasn’t coming down as easily, which had him panicking about hitting the middleweight limit.
“When I used to make 185, I’d have cheat meals all the time, I’d have pizza,” Weidman explained. “If I was to have pizza now, my weight sky rockets, no question. So I can’t even do it anymore. It kind of sucks. I’ve been eating healthy now for the past five weeks and now I’m down under 210. I hit 209 today but I was 215 for a good three or three and a half weeks.
“No matter what I was doing, no matter what I was eating, really low calories and I was burning crazy calories but I was still at 215. It was kind of scary. I’ve hit plateaus before but usually it’s not that long. I was definitely a little nervous but now that I’m under 210, I’m right where I need to be. I’m happy.”
After traveling to South Carolina to complete his training camp alongside former UFC title contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Weidman says he finally got back on track and he’s right where he needs to be ahead of Friday’s weigh-ins.
“It just took a little longer to get to here and it was way harder than usual,” Weidman said. “Once I start eating healthy and working out more, my weight would just start dropping naturally. I’d be around 205 or 207 and then the last week before the fight I’d get down to close to 200.
“But it was relatively easy but this time, it’s taking a little longer, a little more discipline. It’s all good. It’s working.”
If there was a positive about this entire experience it’s that Weidman knows his hard work is paying off because he had to keep himself accountable through every training session and during every meal.
He hopes the end result will be a win over Akhmedov on Saturday night.
“It feels good to be ripped up again and to have some definition,” Weidman said. “It makes me feel like I’m getting ready for a fight.
“When I was at 205, it was kind of weird eating whatever I want and not getting trimmed and not really being disciplined with my diet. It was kind of weird. So this makes me feel like I’m making the sacrifices that deserve a ‘W.’”