By Raphael Garcia
In professional sports, coaches are there for an athlete’s greatest triumphs and worst failures. Former UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman has experienced both in his relatively short UFC tenure. While speaking with Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Weidman’s coach, Ray Longo, provided some strong insight into the current state of his athlete as he prepares to face Gegard Mousasi in the co-main event at UFC 210:
"If you think about it, there was only one way to go. You can’t keep going up and up and up. So we plateaued a little bit before. I think that’s going to be the mantra. That’s behind us, and we really had to go back to what got us there and really just move forward."
“Plateaued” is a strong word to use. Weidman is in the midst of a two-fight losing streak. He dropped the UFC middleweight title to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194. The rebound fight came a year later, but Weidman was unable to rebound, as he was stopped in vicious fashion by Yoel Romero in the third round at UFC 205.
“Who knows, I mean I think maybe we all got scattered a little bit. But we’re all back. I really put a lot into this camp myself as a coach, and I got a lot of help from a lot of other people, which I appreciate. I’m really psyched for this fight...He really, this was a time to get selfish, and just concentrate on your training. And I think the kid went beyond where we’ve been in a while, and I think it shows. If you talk to him I think you’ll see a different guy talking, and obviously if you look at him, the hard work just pays off.”
Saturday night at the Keybank Center in Buffalo, New York, Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier will square off for the light heavyweight title in the UFC 210 main event, but the stakes of the co-main event are high as well. Chris Weidman seeks to polish up a career that has lost some of its luster after two decisive losses, and Gegard Mousasi seeks to steal the former champion’s shine as he establishes himself as a top middleweight contender before stepping into free agent waters. With so much riding on the matchup, let’s hope that Weidman’s team of coaches can keep him laser-focused on the task at hand.