Chris Weidman, a mixed-martial arts fighter who defeated the heavily favored Anderson Silva in the Ultimate Fighting Championship two weeks ago, has returned as a hero to his hometown of Baldwin.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano proclaimed Wednesday, July 16 to be Chris Weidman Day in honor of the newly crowned UFC Middleweight Champion of the World during a ceremony at the Coral House.
“It’s really exciting here in Nassau County to honor someone with a Rocky-like victory,” said Mangano. “He’s a hometown hero, we’re very proud of his achievements.”
Weidman attended Baldwin High School, Nassau Community College and graduated from Hofstra University with both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees before winning the title.
“You have veterans day, Memorial Day, and now Chris Weidman Day,” Weidman joked. “My wife hate’s it I think, she makes me work on my day.”
While in college, Weidman met MMA trainer Ray Longo, who was not initially sold on Weidman as a fighter, but thought he had enough raw talent to be competitive.
“We were watching fighting together and he was very intuitive,” Longo said.
Prior to the fight, Longo brought in many fighters who had similar styles to Silva in order to get Weidman used to the technique used by the Brazilian nicknamed “The Spider,” who is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all-time.
Weidman takes pride in his Long Island roots and was thankful for the support he has received from the community.
“I travel all around the world and go to a lot of different places but this is where I consider my home,” he said. “I love being from here, I’m especially proud of being a Baldwin guy.”
Amid the celebration, Mangano threw his support behind legalizing mixed martial arts in New York State, where a bill to legalize the sport has repeatedly passed the state Senate but not the Assembly.
“We should have [MMA] in New York, we should have [MMA] Nassau County,” Mangano said. “It’s illegal in New York State, it’s ridiculous.”