Many things can change for a fighter after winning a championship, two of the biggest differences being popularity and a substantial increase in income. For Chris Weidman, it has only been little more than two months since ending Anderson Silva's seven-year reign as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight deity at UFC 162.
The new 185-pound king has noticed the changes, and appreciates the good fortune that has come his way.
"I guess it's changed a decent amount," Weidman said, during Wednesday's UFC 168 media session at UFC Gym in downtown New York City. "I'm definitely recognized more. I'm able to get out of the house that got hit by Hurricane Sandy. I'm able to buy a new house in Long Island, but I'm leaving the South Shore, which is hard for me. It's going to be nice to be organized. We were kind of clustered up in there and cluttered. It's going to be nice to have a house where I have room and space to put stuff."
The champion has a presence about him, the same one he had prior to becoming the new champion. He walks and speaks with confidence, and is very polite with mixed martial arts (MMA) media. It is about an hour before the fans come pouring in UFC Gym for autographs, and Weidman started his scrum session holding his son T.J. He could easily be your next-door neighbor family man, as easily as he is a professional fighter.
His family is what allows him to stay that way and not get swallowed by the new-found fame, money and attention.
"They won't let me become a big-headed guy, who thinks who he is," Weidman said. "I just have a lot of people around there that have been there since the beginning. They know who I really am and if they saw me changing they would put me in my place."
As would his coaches, Ray Longo and Matt Serra. "They are not playing games like that," he said. "They are not letting me walk around like I'm some type of God or something like that."
Weidman admits that he "never expected to have much money in his life," but now that he is making the most he's ever made in his life it is "very motivating," he said.
"It's a way to provide for my family. It's a way for me to set my family up for the future," the former Division-1 All-American continued. "I never expected to have much money in my life. I just wanted to be able to live comfortably at some point. So, to be at the spot where I am at is a dream that I never dreamt, come true."
Weidman, was of course an underdog heading into the UFC 162 showdown against "The Spider." On top of that, he had a one-year layoff, had back-to-back surgeries and his house was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Despite that, he still managed to knockout arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
"There were a lot of things going on behind the scenes," Weidman admitted. "I just know I'm going to be in a lot better place for this next fight."
Many pundits and Silva supporters feel that the former champion will turn in a much better performance in the rematch, and that he will be extra motivated and determined to reclaim his belt. Predictions of less taunting and more action have been talked about aplenty.
Weidman is unconcerned.
"I know people are saying 'the angry Anderson Silva, the serious Anderson Silva is going to be coming out,'" he said. "If you think that intimidates me or it makes me second guess myself at all, that's just not where my mind is at."
The undefeated fighter with a degree in Psychology speaks of "understanding the winners mindset." He truly believed he was going to defeat Silva the first time and he truly believes he is going to defeat him yet again.
Silva, of course is confident too, and when asked by MMAmania in his media session, if he thought he has Weidman figured out for the rematch, he had a huge smile on his face and said," Yes."
"That doesn't bother me," Weidman said, when told of Silva's comment. "I don't take anything Anderson says in an interview for the full truth. He just says kind of whatever comes to his mind," he continued. "I have a lot I know I haven't shown in a fight yet. I have a lot of things I do in the gym that I'm still working on to gain the confidence to do in the ring and for this fight. There could be a lot of new things you see.
"I think for sure you haven't seen the best Chris Weidman."
MMAmania then asked Weidman about what he thinks the 38-year-old former champion will bring to the table the second time around.
"He has had so many fights at this point, ever time he is in there I think he is as creative as you can be," Weidman said. "He is very relaxed. I expect the unexpected. Every time I have fought, I'm not too worried about what there doing. I'm worried about what I'm doing. So, honestly it doesn't matter."
As far as the all the naysayers go, the ones who say he was lucky to win by knockout the first time, and that if Silva had been more serious he wouldn't have defeated him, Weidman takes the high road and considers all of it complimentary.
"Anderson has been in the game so much longer than me, he has accomplished so much more than I have," Weidman said respectfully. "He's done a lot great things for the sport and for the UFC. So he deserves that kind of respect where people can't believe that he actually lost the first time and they aren't going to believe that he lost a second time."
But, what if it's Weidman who loses? Would the magnitude of one the biggest upsets of all time be undone?
"Yeah, I'm not losing," an adamant Weidman stated. The thought has obviously never even remotely entered his mind. "So that's not even a thought."
Plenty has changed for the new middleweight champion, but his confidence and belief in his abilities continues to remain the same.