It's very easy for an athlete or celebrity to get caught up in the whirlwind of benefits and perks that come with "making it." Sometimes, it can be too much to handle, leading to a fall from grace.
Then there are those like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman, who is still the same humble "All American" who hasn't changed one bit even though his life has changed drastically for the better over the last few years.
No longer is he the same man making $15,000 a year, living in his parents basement, struggling for a shot inside the Octagon. Now, he sits atop one of the toughest divisions in mixed martial arts (MMA), makes a good living and is the only man who can say he defeated one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in world in Anderson Silva.
Is he perfect? He'll be the first to tell you he isn't. But, what he does have, is a strong core group around him that includes his family, friends, coaches and teammates who keep him grounded and help him from straying to the dark side no matter how big he gets.
He also isn't judgmental, which is the reason he says he can't judge Jon Jones for his recent transgression, a hit-and-run accident that left one pregnant woman injured and a smashed up vehicle without a driver in the middle of traffic. Still, despite Jones' recent setback, Weidman believes he is in a good situation.
That's because "Bones" has most of his secrets now out in the open. And if he can manage to get his head straight, he can rise from the ashes and be a way more influential person that Weidman will ever be. It may sound odd when comparing their track records, but "All American" strongly believes "Bones" can come back and do great things for the world.
During his candid conversation with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, Weidman talked about his support group and Jon's current situation.
"I'm a human being. You start seeing your accomplishments and you're proud of yourself and you kind of start thinking all of these things that you could have and you're getting anything you want. The world is pretty much mine. I'm human, you see all of that stuff and you say, 'This is awesome.' But, I'm blessed in the fact that I have a wife at home, I have kids. I have close friends and family. I live in the same area I grew up in and I'm with the same team I started with. So, as much as I'd love to kind of go and do stupid things, I had such good people around me that kept me strong and kept me grounded and if I was ever to screw up, which I've screwed up plenty of times in my life, I'm far from perfect, but when I did screw up, I had these people tell me, 'What are you doing?' I have people that kept me who I am, so that's the reason I am still the same person I am when I first started fighting to where I am now. It's because of my wife, my teammates, my coaches, my friends and my family. That's why I stay grounded. That's why I don't judge a guy like Jon Jones. The second that you say you wouldn't do something, is the second you're closer to doing that. So, don't ever say that you would never do anything that Jon Jones has done and been caught for doing. We are all humans and capable of doing stupid things. Given the circumstances that he's had, being the youngest champion getting everything that he's gone through. I have some of the things that Jon has, but I think he is more successful than me at this point, he's won more title bouts, champion at a younger age. But, the things that he's done, I just think he's on the wrong path. He went down the wrong path for a little bit, and he might not be as fortunate to have people that are right in his face all the time to tell him, 'What are you doing? Come on, you don't want to do that. You are not going to feel good after that.' He's just going down the wrong path and I'll think he will come back. But, what Jon Jones has, he has an opportunity. He is in a great situation because his secrets are all out. Everybody has secrets. Everyone doesn't know all of his secrets, but they know some of which he definitely didn't want people to know. There is nobody more powerful and inspirational than somebody that has made a lot of mistakes and is not afraid to talk about it. Because everyone is messed up, everyone screws up every day. So he is able to be a spokesperson now if he gets his head straight, if he has the right people around him and starts doing the right thing. He has the ability to be such a influential person to society and be the role model he should be. Because he can say, 'Look at me I screwed up. But look at me now, look what I've become and look at where I am.' I just think he has so many tools now. All these terrible things, I don't have. I didn't screw up and do all of these terrible things publicly to where I am going to be like,' I can help you.' He has a huge up in that. And it's crazy because I'm doing the right thing, but yet he is going to be more influential. So, when it's all said and done, he is going to come back and end up doing some great things for the world."
Jones has since been stripped of his belt and suspended indefinitely.
And while his MMA future is still a bit murky, the former light heavyweight champion still has an open door to walk through at Zuffa headquarters once his legal issues are behind him. Newly-crowned 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier, who defeated Anthony Johnson last night in the UFC 187 main event (watch video highlights here), is itching for a rematch once Jones "gets his shit together."
Ryan Bader, meanwhile, might have next if Jones is stuck on the sidelines.
As for Weidman, he might be onto another Brazilian, Ronaldo Souza, after stopping Vitor Belfort in the co-main event of UFC 187 via technical knockout (watch video highlights here), a fight that marked his third 185-pound title defense.
It's a far cry from a spot he was in four years ago, when he was scratching and crawling just to get his foot inside the Octagon.