Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva have family in mind as they prepare for UFC 168
The reason for the event was the fight, illustrated by the large poster behind Anderson Silva as he answered question after question from the assembled media in Manhattan on Wednesday.
One of the reasons for the fight, however, was on the other side of the UFC Gym on John Street. Across the empty boxing ring, through the second and third rope, a different image played out. That of Baldwin's Chris Weidman, the reigning UFC middleweight champion, launching his left shoulder into a heavy bag that hung from the ceiling while holding his 15-month-old son, Chris Jr., in his right arm.
"It means the world, seeing my kids," said Weidman, 29. "Letting them see me in this type of environment is cool. Just having my family around, having that support system, gives me a sense of relief in why I'm doing all this."
Weidman and Silva both spoke about their families and how they want to provide for them through fighting as they tour the western hemisphere to promote their Dec. 28 rematch at UFC 168 in Las Vegas.
There was even a moment where Weidman's father, Charlie, introduced C.J. to Silva, who acted in a cute and cuddly manner toward the son of the man who defeated him. Yes, cute and cuddly. Silva then posed for a photo with the oldest and youngest Weidmans in attendance.
"I have five wonderful children, I have an incredible wife who supports me," said Silva, 38, through translator Ed Soares. "They've been watching their dad fight for a long time. My kids are my biggest critics."
Weidman had the geographical advantage on Wednesday, the third stop in an eight-day, seven-city tour that concludes Monday in Brazil, Silva's home country.
But, on this day, in this city, these were part of the dozen or so hours Weidman had to see his wife, Marivi, and children.
"He said he was starting to feel sick from all the travel," Marivi Weidman said as she held C.J. in her arms and pushed their 3-year-old daughter, Cassidy, back and forth in a stroller. "They're his medicine."
This was the first day Weidman has seen his family since last Thursday. He was in Toronto for three days for UFC 167 last Saturday, then Los Angeles on Sunday for a media event on Monday. Tuesday he was in Las Vegas, then New York on Wednesday, then to Bristol, Conn., for an ESPN blitz on Thursday, followed by two days in Miami, a stopover in Memphis for an appearance, then two days in Brazil.
"You can't hug them enough, you can't sniff them enough," Weidman said of his children. "Before I left, I made sure that day I was going to hold them and kiss them as much as I possibly can, and it still wasn't enough."
And so goes the life of the champion, on tour to promote the rematch of his greatest athletic achievement to date.
In the 81 days since Weidman knocked out Silva (33-5, 16-1 UFC) and took his middleweight championship belt, little has changed in the fight narrative.
No, Silva doesn't publicly express any regret for his showmanship in the cage that summer night in Las Vegas.
"That's just the way that I fight," Silva said. "That's my style of fighting. That's what I've always done."
No, Weidman doesn't mind if people still think he needs to prove himself by beating the fighter considered to be the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Again. Heck, the tagline on that UFC 168 poster reads: "Leave No Doubt."
"He's Anderson Silva, and there's going to be a lot of doubters out there," said Weidman (10-0, 6-0). "They can't fathom the fact that that guy ever loses."
But some things have indeed changed for the new champion. Weidman has taken enough photos with people wearing his belt to bring Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to a standstill at the same time. He's close to moving into a new home. He's helping to expand trainer Ray Longo's gym in Garden City, one he'll now co-own with his longtime coach. He gets approached with business deal after business deal now that he has a little extra scratch in his pocket.
And he'll be the second fighter introduced when the lights go out inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena this winter.