From the amount of hugs and how-ya-doin’s, it appeared everyone at Thursday’s UFC Long Island open workouts at UFC Gym in New Hyde Park somehow had a connection to Chris Weidman, Gian Villante or Dennis Bermudez.
So go the benefits of fighting at home. Weidman, Villante and Bermudez are three of the six Long Island-based fighters scheduled to perform inside Nassau Coliseum on Saturday for the 25th installment of UFC on Fox. They’ll be joined by Chris Wade, Ryan LaFlare and Brian Kelleher.
“The normal feel of a fight week is looking for something to do, and where to go and what I’m going to eat,” said Bermudez, who lives in Lindenhurst. “Having this fight in my backyard, I’m doing exactly the same things that I have been doing the whole fight camp. Nothing’s changed. I’m sleeping in my own bed, I wash my dishes which is whatever, drive my own car, I know where the grocery store is, I can cook on my own grill, it’s awesome.”
But what about his opponent, Darren Elkins, a featherweight from Portage, Indiana, who now trains with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California?
“Walking out, I’m going to get booed, which is fine,” Elkins said. “I cherish, almost, the bad-guy situation.”
Elkins said he has fought at or close to home twice, and it’s nice up to a certain point.
“I prefer to fight somebody in their hometown than fight in my hometown most of the time,” Elkins said. “All that pressure on me then is going to be on him. He’s going have to deal with most of his friends and family watching in front of him for the first time. So, he has that added pressure. He has to do a lot more stuff in his hometown. All I have to do is just fight and put on a performance.”
Patrick Cummins fought three times in a row in Brazil from August 2015 to May 2016, each time against a Brazilian fighter. So yeah, he knows a thing or two about fighting the hometown guy, which he does again Saturday against Levittown’s Villante in a light heavyweight bout on the main card.
“Any time you’re going into enemy territory, it’s hard on you. But I feel like I got the benefits from it now.
“I’m always the bad guy, I don’t know what it is. But I’m happy to fill it. The mustache helps. It makes you look like a villain.”