Weidman, 29, caught Silva, who had defended his title a UFC-record 11 times, leaning back with a short left hook and finished the job on the ground to score a stunning second-round knockout.
The Baldwin, N.Y., native and former two-time Division I All-American wrestler at Hofstra University visited ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Thursday and took some time to answer our questions:
What did you do to celebrate after getting home from Saturday’s victory in Las Vegas?
I didn’t get to celebrate yet when I got home from Vegas -- it was right into media stuff for the UFC. I was in Vegas until Monday, but I got back early Tuesday morning and tried to get some sleep, which did not happen. It’s just been rock 'n' roll with the media. I can’t wait to get home and just lie down in my bed, hang out with the family and let it absorb a little bit.
Going back to your initial takedown of Anderson Silva in the first round, was that something you practiced countless hours specifically for him, or was it just muscle memory in the moment?
Yeah, muscle memory. It just happened. That specific takedown and the way I finished it, I don’t think I’ve done that once in sparring. I’ve wrestled my whole life and done that takedown a million times, but never in sparring [for this fight.] It was just natural feel.
Was there any one of Silva’s antics inside the Octagon that irritated you the most?
Just the excessiveness of it. I was just like, yo, you’re not punching me and I don’t know, like, bro … I mean if you could do all that, punch me in the face. I actually let him punch me in the face; there was one time where I just said, "hit me." He punched me [Weidman points to his chin] and I said, "hit me again." He punched me, and then I could hear my coaches yelling, “Wideman! Stop! Stop!” I’m like, all right, and I circled out. I was just like, bro, what are you doing? I’m laughing inside and saying, I’m winning the fight. It got to the point where I wanted to hit him, so it motivated me to put my hands on him.
Silva has long been considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. But who do you now consider to be No. 1 in the world?
You debuted this week on our ESPN.com P4P list at No. 5 with Silva right ahead of you at No. 4. Do you feel like you have to beat him another time to disprove all the naysayers?
I expected that when I took this fight. I said I would beat him and that after I finish him, we’re going to have an immediate rematch at Madison Square Garden. That was the only part that I got wrong, the Madison Square Garden. So we are having a rematch and I understood that, no matter what I did to him. I did the impossible and knocked him out and there’s more naysayers than anything. But if I would have submitted him it probably would have been worse. No matter what I did out there, if I had decisioned him, no matter what I did, he’s known as the greatest of all time and people think that he’s unbeatable and are shocked that anyone could actually beat him. So they are going to come up with excuses.
You have probably already heard a lot of excuses since Saturday not giving you a lot of credit. So how motivated are you for a rematch?
I’m very motivated. I’m motivated without that. I get to fight him again, and I want to put on an even better performance.
There are obviously a lot of other athletes and entertainers that follow the UFC. Has there been any celebrity who has shocked you by coming out of the woodwork and contacting you?
Stone Cold Steve Austin. I thought that was cool. He direct messaged me on Twitter. First he wished me good luck. I had never met him before. But I thought that was pretty cool. He thinks I’m a badass apparently. So, I’m a big fan of his now.
We’ve read that your home was severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy and about the nonprofit work you have done to help rebuild the area. Tell us about that and about how you and your family have recovered?
We are about nine months out from Hurricane Sandy. The house is still not back to 100 percent. It’s still a mess. But we have recovered -- we are on the second floor. We are good and are happy with where we are at. Obviously this fight has helped us a lot. We might be moving out and getting a new house, we’ll see. As far as nonprofit, I worked with Theo Rossi from “Sons Of Anarachy” and [Dallas Cowboys running back] DeMarco Murray. It’s something Theo Rossi started called Staten Strong that I just kind of jumped on because I was affected. We work together to get some money together and help people. But honestly the biggest thing I did right after Hurricane Sandy was me and my wife set up a point where people could bring food and batteries and cleaning supplies. We had it through my social media where everyone brought it to our local church and we passed it out to different charities and helped a lot of people.
There are a lot of great nicknames, of course, in MMA. You are known as The All-American. How did you get that name?
When I started and first got to the MMA gym the guys would start and say, “You’re like the All-American kid.” It was because, I don’t know, I go to church every Sunday, I got married young and I’ve always been an All-American in college having gone All-American all four years [two years each at Nassau Community College and Hofstra]. They just started calling me it and that was really it.
Let’s talk about some other fighters in your division not named Anderson Silva whom you could potentially fight. We’ll start with Vitor Belfort. What are your thoughts about him?
Tough guy. I would say he’s the No. 1 contender right now. If I wasn’t fighting Anderson Silva in a rematch, I’d probably be fighting him.
What do you think about all of the controversy surrounding him about testosterone-replacement therapy, and what are your thoughts on TRT in general?
I don’t like it, to be honest with you. If your testosterone is low, man, that’s God telling you that you have low testosterone, and if you can’t train the right way or whatever it is, it’s time to retire and do something else. It’s a little unfair that you could be 38 years old and he definitely has higher testosterone than me. [Note: Belfort is actually 36.] I’m 29 and have decently low testosterone, but I would never take testosterone because you are stuck on that thing for your whole life. I would never want to be on TRT. And I feel fine, [having low testosterone] doesn’t bother me. So I can’t imagine these guys that are using it for performance reasons. I don’t like it, and I know California banned it recently although other commissions allow it. I don’t like it.
What are your thoughts on Michael Bisping?
Another tough guy. I would love to fight Bisping, to be honest with you. That would be a great fight for me.
How about Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza?
Really good jiu-jitsu, good standup. He’s another tough guy, I think. All of these guys would be great challenges, and I would really love to entertain them.
Of all the other fighters out there, who is the one you admire the most and why?
I really like Cain Velasquez. I like his pace that he puts on; he is mentally and physically breaking everybody he goes with. He’s just tenacious and relentless. I like Anderson Silva, too. I like his style. He’s very relaxed.
If Silva had won the fight against you, there was talk about possible superfights for Silva against either Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre. Now that for the time being that’s not going to happen, would you ever consider a fight against either of those two guys?
Definitely not against GSP. First off, I would never call out someone who was a lot smaller than me. I’ve trained with him before, and he’s just a smaller guy. I’m not the type of guy who is going to be like, Hey, you want to fight? I’ve got Anderson Silva on my mind, but if the fans wanted to see that fight [against Jones] and the UFC wanted it to happen, I’m 1000 percent in. I asked to fight Jon Jones on 10 days’ notice back when Dan Henderson got hurt. But I wasn’t a big enough name at that point, so they were like, no.
With your wrestling background, what are your thoughts about the current state of Olympic wrestling?
It’s crazy that it’s even in question and up for voting. But it is, so it’s sad. I think wrestling is the one of the greatest sports there are. It’s the ultimate combat sport, and I just think it needs to be in the Olympics. I think the Olympics was made from wrestling and that it’s a staple. There just needs to be a lot of attention brought to it to keep it there.
Your goal has always been to be champion. Now that you have reached the pinnacle of your profession, how have you readjusted your goals?
My ultimate goal was always that I want to be known as one of the greatest of all time. The first step was obviously to be UFC champion. I did that, and now it’s time to take one fight at a time and really just set myself apart from the group. That’s my goal.