By Dan Taccone
Current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman visited the college on Jan. 28 to instruct a mixed martial arts training session, sign autographs, and answer questions.
Weidman, who holds an undefeated 11-0 record, also has the distinct honour of being the only person to beat Anderson Silva in the Octagon, finishing the fight early not once, but twice, ending the longest-running title run in UFC history. It was this type of experience that he brought to the Impact Zone during a training seminar, which focused on wrestling, takedowns, and submissions.
While Weidman isn’t the first UFC fighter to come to campus, or the first champion—the campus has hosted one-time champions Rich Franklin, Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez, and Chuck Liddell, just to name a few—he did have the bonus of coming off two straight victories over the previously undefeated Silva.
Silva is ranked among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and was king of the middleweight division for years, which included a seven-year run as champion.
The one hour seminar took place in the Impact Zone, where Weidman instructed pupils of varying skill levels and experience in a few choice takedowns and submissions, including a modified D’Arce Choke. The effective front-headlock choke that cuts off blood flow in an attempt to make the opponent tap or pass out.
According to Wayne Boucher, fitness and health coordinator at the Fitness Zone, some of the pupils were a little star-struck being near one of the world’s top fighters, but “as soon as he [Weidman] started teaching, they got into the flow.”
“It’s a chance of a lifetime,” said Boucher, further explaining that most of the students may not get another chance to train with a world champion, giving credit to events programmers Bill Kitchen and Ken MacLeod as organizers of the event.
That was a sentiment shared by many of the 35 attendees, including Jacob Trembetzky, a student in the internal applications and web development program, who appreciated the opportunity.
“[He’s the] current champion, top of his game, and I saw him right now,” said Trembetzky.
He wasn’t the only MMA fan who took time out to train with the champ.
“I drove from Kingston,” said Amy Therien, a martial artist with 10 years’ experience.
After the training session, which was only open to Impact Zone members, participants had an exclusive chance for pictures with Weidman. He then moved to the Commons, coming out to his UFC walk-out music, Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down, before taking control of the Octagon constructed for the occasion.
After a brief demonstration of a wrestling throw, of which his manager was the lucky recipient, Weidman opened up the floor to questions. He fielded queries that ranged from what it felt like when Anderson Silva broke his own leg after Weidman blocked an attempted leg kick, which Weidman laughed off, to his plans for his upcoming fight against Vitor Belfort.
“He’s a strong, athletic, quick, explosive guy,” said Weidman. “But I have better range than him. When he exposes himself, I’m going to take him down and punch him.”
When asked about the whereabouts of his championship belt, Weidman’s answer drew laughs from the crowd.
“It’s 30 pounds. It’s heavy, and annoying to carry,” he said. “I carried it the first day and that’s all.”
Weidman’s humour continued through the question period, as he attributed his toughness to when his older brother and his friends would “beat the crap out of [him] all the time.”
However, it was the autograph and picture session that brought in most of the crowd, as the line zigzagged its way through the Commons as students waited for their turn to enter the Octagon with Weidman for a chance to see the champion up close.
Aldo Cravioto, a student in the business marketing program, who has seen every UFC event since 1994 was “extremely” excited to meet Weidman, naming him among one of his favourite fighters, and worrying that he may not get the chance to meet him because of his class schedule.
This excitement was tangible throughout the Commons as students got their chance to take a picture with the champ.
“[This is my] first experience. It’s really cool that the school put this on,” said Erich Hunsinger, a student in his second year of the police foundations program.
Despite the long line of students waiting to meet him, and the training session before it, Weidman didn’t seem to tire as he posed for pictures and signed countless autographs. Throughout, he maintaining a relaxed atmosphere full of laughs, jokes, and a couple of fan-requested headlocks.
Eventually the line died down and his time at the campus came to an end, leaving Weidman in the ring alone with his manager and event organizers.
“That went well,” said Weidman.
Due to time constraints, the Times wasn’t able to get a one-on-one interview with Weidman.