Read below for the keynotes from today’s UFC 123: Rampage Vs Machida pre-fight press conference in Detroit, Michigan.
– “The 205lb division is the best division in the sport,” says Dana White. “[Rampage – Machida is a fight between two of the best in the world.”
– “I love bringing big fights back to big fight towns like Detroit,” says the UFC president.
– Rampage on his desire to fight for the title if he wins on Saturday – “I have losses to both [Shogun and Evans]. “It would be good for me to get back in with those guys, whoever wins.”
– Machida: “Of course I want the belt, but I’m not even thinking about the belt right now. My focus is on Rampage.”
– White says it’ll be interesting to see if Machida continues with his elusive strategy, or comes out more aggressive this time out.
– White reveals the reason they put together the Penn Vs Hughes rubber match together was for the fighters themselves as much as anything else. “They’ve done so much in the sport. At this stage it’s about fights they want, the fights that motivates them.” He says that both fighters were very motivated for this match-up.
– Rampage says it was important for him to have his training camp closer to his kids this time round after having spent a lot of time away from home due to his previous camps, fights and acting commitments. Apart from that he says the training was much the same as it usually would be.
– Machida says he’s used to fighting away from Brazil and say that fighting in the UFC always feels like home to him.
– China and India are two countries they are looking to get into in the next year or two. The biggest difficulty is just time – “There isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done,” White says.
– BJ Penn shows full respect to his old foe: “Matt Hughes has always been one of my idols,” he says, adding that he always make a point to watch his fights. Despite that business is business as far as he’s concerned though. “After it all goes down he’ll still be one of my idols, but I need a victory.”
– Penn says he’s not trying to put any pressure on himself, but he’s fully aware that he’s on a two fight losing streak. Despite that he’s keen to point out that he’s not on the downwards slope in the sport. “I’m only 31 years old and I’m going to be in this sport for a lot more time.”
– Dana says having Toronto open to the UFC, “is huge.” He admits he thought it’d be the last place they would open up in this region. He adds that they’re just waiting on some final details being sorted out before cementing the date of their first event in there.
– If George Sotiropolous wins Dana is giving no guarantee about a title shot in the near future, saying that they’ll have to wait and see what happens.
– Sotiropoulos boldly states, “it’s a no brainer” that he’ll fight in Australia in February despite the fact he’s also competing on Saturday night.
– Sotiropoulos says he was happy enough with the Joe Lauzon fight, noting that you can’t predict who you are going to get next due to things like injuries, other fighters already having match-ups, etc.
For his part Joe Lauzon says he’s just thankful to be on the main card and keeping such good company up on the stage with some of the promotion’s biggest stars.
– Rampage says he wanted to fight other exciting fighters, rather than someone like Machida. He adds that a big reason he got into the sport was to be an entertainer. He goes on to say that he doesn’t want the sport to turn like boxing where “fighters don’t even hit the canvas any more,” and he criticizes some judges for perhaps knowing boxing but not being fully up to speed on some of the other elements like wrestling and BJJ.
– “Aside from voicing my opinion there’s nothing I can do”, White says of fighters coming out and putting on potentially “boring” fights. Rampage says bonuses motivate him to put on a good fight. “I like a little extra cheese.”
– White says bad judging can “ruin’ fighter legacies. He mentions Jon Jones as an example – “he should be undefeated right now.”
– Hughes says that for his part the rivalry with Penn stems simply from the loss he had to him, nothing more.
– Sotiropoulos says he doesn’t feel extra pressure now that he’s getting closer to a title shot. As far as he’s concerned nothing’s changed, he’s still doing the same things and still just fighting to win.
– Hughes says he’s had a great training camp and was able to push back all his other commitments such as a TV Hunting show until after the fight.
– Penn says age has helped him gain experience over how to fight his opponents and jokes that it’s also helped him to learn how to deal with Dana White. He adds that you never stop learning in this sport, and can never know everything there is to know about it.
– BJ points out that despite being labeled as a wrestler Hughes is probably a black belt in BJJ, even if he’s not been awarded it formally.
– Hughes says he honestly doesn’t know how the fight is going to pan out, so he’s trained hard in all areas to prepare himself for it.
That concludes the pre-fight presser.