Las Vegas, Nevada – The Ultimate Fighting Championship® organization returns to Toronto this Saturday with a stacked card featuring two world title fights.
At an open workout today, here’s what the top four fighters on the card told the Canadian and travelling press:
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones said: “Vitor Belfort is a UFC original, a real, true legend. He has so much experience at so many different weight classes and I cannot underestimate him. He will have something planned for me, and I’ve prepared to react to anything he does.
“He’s a very powerful striker, but in this situation, I feel I am the more versatile striker in the fight. I won’t shy away from a striking battle just because he has a punch. He’s got a unique style and I enjoy matching up against guys like that. There are so many styles in MMA and, being the champion, you have to face all of them.
“In no way have I ‘cleared out’ the division. Everyone’s style is a puzzle for me, and who knows which style I will have the most trouble with. I’m about to fight my fifth straight UFC champion – which I was told is a UFC record – and I’m very proud of fighting the best guy available in each of my fights. That’s how you build a legacy in a sport.”
Vitor Belfort, challenger, said: “Everyday, I have the chance to be the best of myself. Every day I have a day to improve. I know I can win this fight and shock the world. I can bring the old guys some pride back (laughs).
“I am so ready in my mind, it is hard for me to explain. I am so ready to be the champion again. My brain, my body, they are so ready. That’s how I live my life, with belief. I am a winner. I am ready to win. As you get older you learn about yourself. I have the same abilities as I had when I was younger, but now I have more sense of myself. I know how I respond and learn. Whenever someone says something like ‘Can you speak French?’ I don’t say “no” I say “Not yet”.
“Against Jon Jones people ask ‘how can you beat this guy?’ and I say ‘I will show you how on Saturday’.”
Moving to the second UFC world title fight at UFC 152, the clash for the newly created UFC flyweight title, Joseph Benavidez said:
“The main goal in my career is to be the UFC champion. I would take that however it comes – but to be the first UFC champion is extra special. If I wasn’t a fighter, and I was just a fan, I would be a fan of DJ. He’s got a great all-action style and I love watching him. My coaches have broken his style down and we got a plan to beat him. My eye is on the prize but I am planning a long reign.
“It was frustrating to wait since February for this fight because DJ had a draw against (Ian) McCall but it was just extra time to get better. Most fighters train when they are fighting, I train to get better all the time. You get better as a fighter when you don’t have a fight but you in the gym – and you’ll see the best version of me yet on Saturday.”
And Demetrious Johnson added: “I first walked into Matt Hume’s gym after seeing Rashad Evans on the Ultimate Fighter (season two, 2006) and I said ‘I saw this guy who is a wrestler, like me, doing well, and I think I want to try it’. I had no idea I was too small for the smallest UFC division back then, but as they kept adding more and more smaller classes I started to believe I would fight at 125lbs in the UFC.
“This is where I belong. This is where I can perform to the best of my abilities. I want to be remembered as the George Washington of the 125lbs division, the first, the guy who was first in line and everyone else followed. All the hard work is worth that piece of the history books.”