He went to junior college across the street from Long Island’s most well-known venue for athletics. He then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the college across the other street. The gym where he trains — and now co-owns — is a two-minute drive.
Now, former UFC middleweight champion and four-time All-American wrestler Chris Weidman will get to fight inside Nassau Coliseum.
Weidman will headline the UFC Long Island fight card against Kelvin Gastelum at the renovated Nassau Coliseum on July 22. The middleweight main event, which airs on Fox, was announced Friday at the UFC’s summer kickoff news conference in Dallas ahead of Saturday night’s UFC 211 event on pay-per-view.
“I can’t say no, main event, Nassau Coliseum,” Weidman said. “That’s a dream come true. So it’s gonna be an awesome fight against a game opponent.”
Weidman, who grew up in Baldwin and went to Nassau CC and Hofstra, isn’t the only Long Island fighter scheduled to compete on the home field. Levittown’s Gian Villante and Islip’s Chris Wade also have announced bouts scheduled at the Coliseum.
Weidman (13-3, 9-3 UFC) enters the bout on a three-fight losing streak. He lost his title to Luke Rockhold in December 2015, then lost to Yoel Romero last November at UFC 205 in the promotion’s first fight card at Madison Square Garden. Then, last month at UFC 210 in Buffalo, he lost a controversial bout to Gegard Mousasi, one that still is under appeal with the New York State Athletic Commission.
“I wanted that rematch with Gegard but apparently he didn’t sign yet, so I was asked to fight Gastelum,” Weidman said. “It’s in my hometown. Obviously, New York is a tough spot for me to fight after that last one. We’re under appeal right now.”
Gastelum was supposed to fight Anderson Silva at UFC 212 next month in Brazil but was removed from the card after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency revealed he tested positive for marijuana metabolites during in-competition testing on March 11 in Brazil. Gastelum was suspended six months, but USADA announced on Thursday that it was reduced to three months after he completed an agency approved drug awareness and management program. UFC 212 is scheduled for June 3, eight days before Gastelum’s suspension ends.
Gastelum (14-2, 8-2 with 1 no contest) has won three fights in a row. The last one, however – a first-round stoppage of Vitor Belfort – was overturned into a no contest as a result of the positive test.
UFC on Fox 25 at the Coliseum will be the fifth UFC event in New York since the state legalized MMA in March 2016.
Other bouts announced at the news conference:
-- Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones at UFC 214, July 29 in Anaheim, California.
-- Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 213, July 8 in Las Vegas.
-- Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje at the Ultimate Finale on July 7 in Las Vegas.