||05-24-2013 01:26 PM
UFC top contender Weidman nearly signed with Bellator before contract flap
More shadiness with the Bellator contracts. From the NYPost.com:
The pen was ready on the table. Reservations were made for a celebration dinner. Chris Weidman was all set to sign with Bellator.
And then he didn’t.
Everyone’s chic pick to dethrone Anderson Silva in July and win the UFC middleweight title almost never fought for the UFC in the first place.
In early 2011, Weidman, a native of Baldwin, Long Island, had a contract in hand with Bellator and every intention of signing it. A night out with his family was planned for high-end Bryant & Cooper Steakhouse in Roslyn. Weidman’s uncle, a lawyer, was just going to browse the document one last time. Nothing more than a formality.
But in the type he found a way that the life of the contract could be extended to three or four years, Weidman said. Initially, Bellator brass promised him it would be a two-year deal.
“I felt like I was betrayed by them,” Weidman told The Post in a sitdown interview. … “They never told me that. It was a little sneaky.”
The former Hoftsra wrestling All-American was crushed. He had his heart set on signing with a growing organization and, with a wife and two kids to support, making some decent money.
“I was so upset,” Weidman said. “I was so let down. I was excited to go to Bellator.”
Bellator, through a spokesman, declined comment on Weidman’s claims. The organization has come under fire recently by fighters for alleged business practices. Bellator, owned by media giant Viacom, is currently in litigation with former lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez over the wording of his contract. There was also controversy recently about whether former UFC fighter Leonard Garcia was offered a Bellator contract. He says he was and turned it down; Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said he was not.
None of that has mattered to Weidman, because less than a week after painfully turning down Bellator, he got a call from the UFC. Two separate men, Maiquel Falcao and Rafael Natal, had injuries force them out of a middleweight fight with Alessio Sakara at UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann in Louisville, Ky., which would air on national television. They needed a replacement and Weidman, despite nursing a broken wrist, didn’t hesitate.
He took the fight and ended up dominating Sakara with his wrestling, winning a unanimous decision. Weidman won twice more in 2011, both via submission, and a top prospect was born.
Weidman, 28, is 9-0 in his MMA career and he’ll try to do what no one in the UFC ever has on July 6 against Silva in Las Vegas. And with his combination of dominant wrestling and prodigy-like Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, he doesn’t just think he can beat the greatest of all time.
“He’s the pound-for-pound best fighter and I know I can beat him,” Weidman said. “There’s no better feeling than that.”
Out of college, Weidman tried out for the 2008 Olympic wrestling team and didn’t make it. Then he had a choice. He could wait until the 2012 trials and coach in the meantime. Or he could go into MMA. Finances made the decision for him – he was living in his parents’ basement at the time.
“I was broke as a joke,” he said.
So Weidman went to Matt Serra’s jiu-jitsu school on Long Island and signed up. Three months later, he went 13-0, winning every match by submission, at a Grapplers Quest tournament. Weidman “fell in love” with BJJ and was winning a tournament in Abu Dhabi and heading to Spain for the world championships just eight months after having first been on the mat.
Weidman then tore through the competition in the Ring of Combat MMA organization in Atlantic City. He went 4-0, including a win over “Ultimate Fighter” star Uriah Hall, and won the middleweight championship.
Dying to break out and truly make a living in the sport, Weidman was listening to a ton of offers. Bellator had the best one.
The way Weidman figures it, he would be Bellator’s middleweight champion by now and likely locked into a contract with them – perhaps not unlike what Alvarez is going through.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Weidman said. “Thank God I took my time and didn’t just rush into it.”
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