The UFC held their final pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas today for Saturday night’s UFC 132: Cruz Vs Faber event. Find out what the fighters had to say for themselves in the keynote summary below.
– Tito Ortiz isn’t ready to think about retirement just yet, he’s just focusing all his attentions on Ryan Bader this weekend. He goes on to add he’ll evaluate what comes next after the fight.
– Dominick Cruz says he has put on some muscle mass and has “grown into my body a little bit”, but notes that though it gets a little tougher over the years he still has his weight cut down to a science. He concedes that it’s not fun to do though and jokes that he looks like a concentration camp victim at the weigh-ins these days.
– Ryan Bader says his first loss helped him to “start over” and rejuvenated him to work harder, fix his weaknesses and reinvent himself as a fighter.
Regarding whether there’s less pressure on him now that his unbeaten run has been broken he feels that he’s now got a different kind of pressure because he doesn’t want to lose two fights in a row. “I just want to get back to winning,” he adds.
– Cruz laughs off the idea that he’s jealous of Urijah Faber and claims that’s just Faber’s “big head talking.” He’s ready to put to bed questions about his worth by beating Faber on Saturday night and then moving forward as the champion of the bantamweight division.
Cruz feels that Faber has similar skills to the last time they fought, while he feels that he has become bigger, faster and stronger. Cruz disagrees though, saying that he’s improved considerably in his stand-up and muay thai in particular since their first bout in the WEC several years ago.
“I sure hope he’s made some adjustments [since our last fight]” Cruz says of Faber, pointing out that since their first fight he has fought and beaten a lot of people, including many of Faber’s training partners.
– Chris Leben admits he just doesn’t know whether Wanderlei Silva will come in with ring rust after over a year out due to surgery, or if he’ll come back with a fire lit underneath him. When pushed Leben predicts the fight will go the three full, hard rounds and that there will be blood spilled.
– Silva expects a great main event between Faber and Cruz and admits that bout will give himself and Leben a real rival for the ‘Fight Of The Night’ award.
– Leben humbly states that five years ago he probably would have got beaten up by Silva, but that he’s evolved since then and is now ready for the challenge.
– Talking of the young fighters coming through, Silva says the sport is growing up fast and that now there are no easy fights and all the fighters are well-rounded whereas in the past some were good on the ground and some on the feet.
Faber credits younger fighters like Jose Aldo and Jon Jones for their skills and in particular their “strong mindset” at such a young age.
– Cruz says he expects fighters to try to cut him off in the cage due to his elusive style, and admits that the fact that the Octagon is bigger than the WEC cage that it could make it easier for him to avoid that happening.
Faber however adds that he doesn’t plan to press Cruz up against the cage though and says his speed will help him to get to Cruz.
– Faber credits his success and longevity at the top of the sport to being “persistent, consistent and leading a healthy lifestyle.”
– Cruz states that signing for the UFC has been “a life-changing experience” and that he’s just thankful for the opportunity and is having fun with it.
– Leben classifies himself an entertainer and describes his fighting style as “a controlled explosion.” He adds that he hates to watch people who “fight not to lose.”
– Bader says he’s worked on his stand-up and “being more technical.” He believes that has actually also helped to improve his transitions from the striking to the takedowns – something that Ortiz had felt was a weak point in his game prior to this fight.
– Cruz is looking forward to the weight that will come off his shoulders if he avenges his loss against Faber and defends his title, but at the same time points out that he likes having nerves before the fight as it keeps him sharp and focused.
– Regarding being the underdog going into his fight with Bader, Ortiz claims, “rankings don’t mean sh!t” and says it doesn’t matter. Bader admits he doesn’t pay attention to the betting odds either.
– “I’m fighting for my career, I’ve got nothing to lose – I’m supposed to lose according to the betters. All the pressure is on Bader,” claims Ortiz. He does praise Bader’s skills though, but believes his experience could pay dividends in this fight and says that his opponent won’t have faced ground and pound of the caliber that he can provide on Saturday night.
Pointing out that the UFC keep on putting him in with top contenders, Ortiz hints that he sees this as the promotion trying to build their names off of his reputation, but he’s still determined to prove he can compete with the best the sport has to offer.
– Faber says that if he and Cruz lived in the same neighbourhood they would have ended up fighting because of “his bad attitude and me not taking crap…and me being the badder dude.”
– Leben says his true passion is coaching and that’s what he’ll do when he finishes fighting.