On the biggest night of Chris Weidman's life, a new, yet familiar face will walk to the octagon with him and stand in his corner.
His father, Charlie Weidman.
"He brought me to every single wrestling match since I'm in second grade," the UFC middleweight from Baldwin said. "He sat in those stands, him and my mom [Mary], and watched every single one of my tournaments, and wasted their time, sacrificed their time, sacrificed money, sacrificed whatever they wanted to do for themselves to be there for me all these years."
It will be the first time Chris' father will be in his corner -- physically, that is. And what a fight to have a front-row seat: UFC 162 against the greatest mixed martial artist ever in Anderson Silva, tomorrow night in Las Vegas, for the middleweight championship.
The fourth spot in the corner -- along with head trainer Ray Longo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher and friend and UFC light heavyweight Gian Villante -- came open when longtime mentor Matt Serra couldn't make the trip. Serra, who first trained Weidman in BJJ, recently became a father for the third time and still is recovering after having surgery to remove his first rib.
Charlie received the invite from Chris on the most appropriate of days -- Father's Day. It was written on the inside of his Father's Day card.
"It was a very loving surprise," Charlie said, "and I was filled up with so much emotion."
The father stood up and hugged his son, the one he coached in youth roller hockey and basketball and watched from the stands in wrestling at Baldwin High School, Nassau CC and Hofstra.
In this case, though, son knows best. The inscription inside the card included three key words: "Rules to come."
"He's very sociable," Chris said. "He likes to talk to everybody. In the locker room, he's on a leash."
Easier said than done, the father admitted.
"Being I'm so vocal, sometimes it's best if I'm a little outside the area where events are taking place," Charlie said. "The last thing in my mind is to outshout them. But Chris respected me enough to trust me to not to do that, which if you know me, that's not always a guarantee."
As Chris visualizes and prepares to do something no one has done in more than seven years -- beat Silva -- there will be some nerves and tension. The plan is for dad to provide a calming and spiritual effect.
"I'm there because he loves me and he asked me," Charlie said. "I hope I can bring him some peace."
And when he's cageside during the fight?
"The peace," Charlie said, "will change to yelling and screaming."