The fighters are assembled and all is ready to go for UFC 164 in Milwaukee, this Saturday night. On a card that’s led by Benson Henderson and home-town golden boy Anthony Pettis, UFC 164 bodes to be one of the year’s more exciting cards.
The Henderson / Pettis re-match is by itself a must-see for any serious MMA fan, but in addition to it, fans are also to be treated to a grudge match between Frank Mir & Josh Barnett, as well as a great throw-down between Chad Mendes & Clay Guida. In addition, fans could well be seeing the swan-song performance of once promising hopeful, Bandon “The Truth” Vera, as he returns to the heavyweight division for the first time in years and takes on Ben Rothwell.
In lead-up to the event, the UFC held its pre-fight press conference. Here are some of the highlights.
Anthony Pettis was asked whether or not he’s rushed back too soon from his rehab and would he have done so, had the fight been anything short of a match with Henderson for the title and in his home-town.
In response, Pettis stated:
“I’ve been training since February, man. Right after the “Cowboy” fight I knew I was getting a title-shot. I’ve been in camp since February; this is one of the longest camps in my life. So, I don’t care who it would have been against or when it was, I was taking this next fight and Dana knows, I’ve been out there begging for the fight with Aldo and it just wouldn’t happen.”
In terms of whether or not he should have had a title-shot 2 years ago and has he been frustrated with how things have worked out, Pettis remarked:
“This is the biggest moment of my life, ya know and I want to enjoy this as much as possible. My mind-set has been to finish fights and do it impressively and the title-shot will come, and that’s all I’ve been focusing on; finishing fights and doing it impressively.”
Chad Mendes, in commenting on his new found KO power and what he attributes to its development, stated:
“I’m kind of finding myself as a fighter, just getting comfortable with my stand-up and that first knock-out of (Cody) McKenzie I kind of realized I could put people down if I hit ’em in the right spot and it just kind of made my confidence go up, and then also having Duane Ludwig at our camp now drilling tons and tons of stand-up stuff that we’ve never really done before, has helped a ton. So, I’m feeling good, man.”
Josh Barnett was asked what differences he sees in the UFC that he left years ago and what it has become, now. Barnett remarked:
“That would be a question that probably would take longer than is necessary for a press conference like this, but honestly, with media exposure, with a wider fan-base and a greater opportunity to gather fans and to be seen, now you’re able to have everybody see everything that’s going on. It’s not like UFC 28 or in the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, aka the largest pawn shop in the world, and were just fighting because it’s an opportunity to fight in the UFC, it’s still the UFC, but nobody is watching us and the then we’re blocked out, no cable companies want to carry us and it’s gone from that, to where we have major alcohol sponsors, were on national television and commercials everywhere, we all get to look like idiots hawking products and that’s great. That’s a real plus.
In terms of his mind-set for his fight with Frank Mir, Barnett commented:
“Have you ever seen me fight, before? (A few times). Do you think anything has changed since then, for me? I see women and children in the audience, so I prefer not to describe what I’m going through in my head.”
To Clay Guida and whether or not he feels any pressure fighting in Milwaukee, a city close to his home-town of Chicago, Guida remarked:
“I don’t feel pressure when I fight at home. It’s fun just to go out there and know you have a good solid support system from, obviously Chicago land-based fans, and hopefully I have some here in Milwaukee, too…so no, to answer your question I don’t feel pressure. It’s nice to be back after 6 or 7 years of not fighting in the mid-west.”
To Ben Henderson and the question of pressure fighting in Pettis’s home-town, Henderson commented:
“It is what it is. I don’t dislike it, I don’t like it particularly. It’s fine. I’m okay fighting in San Jose, fighting in Toronto. It doesn’t really matter to me. Once those cage doors close, it’s just background noise.”
To Frank Mir and whether or not he sees a common thread in his last two losses, Mir remarked:
“The first fight Dos Santos, he’s a phenomenal fighter and I wasn’t as prepared as I should be going into the fight. The second fight with Daniel I was extremely prepared, but not the confidence to employ my game-plane. I think I waited to see what he was going to do and I started up the fight too late. I didn’t really turn it on until the 3rd round and in a 3 round fight, that’s not enough time to do anything.”
In terms of what a 3rd straight loss might mean to his career, Mir stated”
“Obviously no one wants to lose 1 or 2 or even 3 in a row, obviously, but at the same time as long as you are fighting game opponents in a sense that helps. I think the scary aspect of our game is losing to somebody that nobody knows who they are, that’s a lot more frightening. So long as I can stay in there and constantly fight people that are house-hold names, that are recognized as top-ten competition, then it keeps you afloat a little bit better. You’ve still got to string together wins obviously, but nowhere near as detrimental as a no-name loss. If I’m fighting on a pre-lim against a no-namer, that’s a scary aspect.”
That’s some, but not all of the pre-fight press conference. If you’d care to watch all of it, just hit play. Josh Barnett is probably worth the view.