The UFC held a pre-fight press conference for their historic UFC 129: GSP Vs Shields event earlier today in Toronto, Canada, and we’ve got the keynotes from the event for you below.
– “Finally, finally here!” Dana White said to a cheer from those in attendance as he kicked off the conference in Toronto, Ontario after a long battle to have the sport legalized in the region.
– White says he wasn’t sure how many tickets they could sell for an event in Toronto, and after unprecidented demand led to 55,000 tickets being sold for the Rogers Centre he admits he’s still not sure how many more people they could have packed in.
– Dana jokes that he’s heard talk of Randy Couture retiring before, and even seen it happen once before, but it seems the UFC president isn’t willing to bet this is the last time we’ll see him compete. In the mean time he states his belief that Couture is still one of the top 10 light-heavyweights in the world. Incidentally, he also says Lyoto Machida id still a top 10 205lb’er too despite a couple of losses in a row recently.
– Jake Shields says he’s not being critical of all the media attention he’s been getting in the build-up to this fight, but he does say it’s been, “a little overwhelming.”
He claims he’s comfortable being the underdog in the fight, but at the same time he plans on shocking a few people on Saturday night.
– GSP appears to agree with his trainers assessment that he’s had a “perfect” training camp, admitting that he’s as well prepared as he can be for this weekend’s title fight.
– Shields says he ran a lot earlier in this training camp to get his weight down so that he wouldn’t experience the fatigue that he did following a 20lb weight cut prior to his UFC debut last year.
Shields says his trainer Cesar Gracie won’t be cornering him due to problems getting into Canada, but he’ll have the rest of his team around him and doesn’t think it’ll be a problem.
– Couture says he’s admired Lyoto Machida’s style for a long time, and how he’s baffled so many of his opponents with his elusiveness. He says that’s the type of fight that interests him and he pushed to get the bout, but when he finally got it he really had to step back and consider how he was actually going to deal with the Brazilian. He admits that it was actually frustrating at times trying to crack the complex puzzle that is ‘The Dragon’s’ style.
– Dana White states his belief that they’ve actually made the UFC event experience even better despite the fact that they have to accomodate 55,000 fans on Saturday night, and guarantees that no-one with a ticket will leave disappointed.
UFC Head Of Canadian Operations Tom Wright agrees, and says that it’s all down to the hard work and planning that they’ve been doing for months now in the lead-up to this event.
– In answer to a media question White agrees that there will be as much interest in terms of PPV sales for UFC 129 as there has been for tickets in Toronto, citing GSP’s worldwide popularity as the main reason for that, and the fact that they have a stacked card.
– GSP claims that due to the fact that Jake Shields was a champion in Strikeforce prior to making the switch to the UFC, that he himself won’t go into this fight as the champion, but rather that the belt will remain in the middle and they will fight for the right to be the real champion of the world.
St.Pierre goes on to say that he’s wanted to fight Shields for a long time, and he feels that he will bring the best out of him.
– GSP says he’s incorporated gymnastics into his training because he believes that gymnasts are the best all-round athletes in the world. He adds that he also regularly does olympic lifting and sprinting.
– Couture says it’s been “a remarkable journey” from his first fight in the UFC in front of 5,000 fans, to Saturday night’s event in front of 55,000, but that he always believed that it could happen one day.
– The UFC are predicting that the Ontario economy should benefit to the tune of some $30-40 million due to UFC 129, though they are still waiting for the results of their economic study to deliver a more precise figure.
– Tom Wright says that once the Rogers Centre seating has been configured correctly there may yet be room for a few hundred more fans.
– Dana says they are offering all the prelim fights for free on Facebook as they feel that this event is the equivelant of an historic ‘UFC 100’ type card.
– For now Jose Aldo says he is not concerned with whether people are taking notice of him or not, but rather is just focused on putting on a good performance in the octagon. If he does that he feels people will quickly get to know who he is.
– Lyoto Machida sees an upside to not being as popular as he once was when he was a champion, saying that it leaves him with more free time to focus on his training, but despite that his goal is still to get back to the top of the 205lb division.