Chris Weidman, the former middleweight champion from Long Island who helped lobby to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State, finally can say he will fight at home.
Weidman was added to UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, UFC president Dana White announced Tuesday morning on WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show. Weidman will fight Yoel Romero.
“This is a dream come true,” Weidman said Tuesday at a rowdy news conference at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The fight had been rumored for weeks and considered a done deal, but Weidman had yet to sign the bout agreement.
“This last week, Dana will tell you, has been crazy,” Weidman said. “We made it happen, I’m here.”
This will be the first fight for Weidman (13-1, 9-1 UFC) since he lost his title to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194 last December. He was scheduled for a rematch last June but had to withdraw from the fight to have neck surgery.
Romero (11-1, 7-0 UFC) last fought at UFC 194, winning a split decision over Jacare Souza. He since served a six-month suspension by USADA for testing positive for a banned substance after that fight. However, USADA determined that Romero used a tainted supplement, thus the shorter-term suspension.
It’s a big fight on a big stage, one Weidman couldn’t let pass him by.
“I’ve been envisioning this for so long and we’re here right now,” Weidman said. “We’ve got this fight in about six weeks and I can’t wait to come out here and fight in front of all of you guys, man.”
Weidman isn’t the only New York fighter who dreamed of performing at the Garden, but he’s one of only four from New York State scheduled to make the walk in November. Niagara Falls native Rashad Evans will fight Tim Kennedy, NYC’s Rafael Natal will fight Tim Boetsh and NYC’s Lyman Good will fight Belal Muhammad.
Weidman’s teammates Gian Villante and Al Iaquinta were scheduled to compete but were removed from the card. Villante pulled from his fight with an injury, while Iaquinta backed out over a contract dispute.
“I would love for everybody to be here right now, everybody from Long Island and everybody from New York in general deserves to be here,” Weidman said. “For whatever reasons, it didn’t work out for this one, it sucks, but there are going to be a heck of more cards coming and they’ll be on it.”
For now, being here alone is enough for Weidman.
“I’m so proud to be a New Yorker, coming here right now I feel this energy,” Weidman said. “There’s nothing like New York, and you guys are showing it right now, this is unbelievable, an historic event.”