UFC 154 will feature nine Canadian fighters in eight different fights on Saturday night, not including French fighter turned honorary Canadian Francis Carmont, who lives and trains at Tristar in Montreal.
They were all on hand this afternoon at the Sheraton Hotel to pose for photos and talk to the media as part of a special press opportunity and Community Works event. While the other fighters conducted interviews, Nick Ring and Patrick Cote both got a nice Movember trim as part of the community program.
Many of the veteran Canadians on this card cut their teeth and paid their dues in this sport in this very city (long before the lights of the UFC came calling on them), and the feelings of nostalgia were front and center for many.
Featherweight Mark Hominick let us in on why.
"Being in Montreal is a nostalgic feeling. George St-Pierre, Patrick Cote, Sam Stout and myself were all champions in our respective divisions in the TKO organization, which was basically the Canadian champions at the time. So there's definitely a feeling of nostalgia and a feeling of comfort."
His voice clear in excitement, he continued.
"It was almost like I got off the plane and I felt at ease. You know, I've been here before, and I'm just excited. I'm kinda enjoying this week and getting back to my roots and it felt like that in my training as well. I think I had to go back to my roots and remember what got me here."
Hominick's teammate, lightweight Sam Stout, was an undefeated 7-0 in his TKO fights in Montreal. He was also on the first three UFC cards held in Montreal, where he went 1-2 with two Fight of the Night performances in his win over Matt Wiman and his loss to Jeremy Stephens.
Always a fan favorite in Canada, Stout will be facing Montreal fighter Jon Makdessi, and he isn't sure who the crowd will be pulling for on Saturday night.
"I'm interested to find out how that's all going to play out. I've fought in the Bell Center a lot more than he has, so I'm not sure if the crowd's gonna be a Montreal crowd or a Canadian crowd, so it's really difficult to predict whether they will be cheering for him or cheering for me, or if they are going to be split down the middle. I'm prepared for either and if the crowds booing.
"I feel really at home here. I feel really comfortable with the city and fighting in the Bell Center."
Don't be surprised if Stout picks up his seventh UFC fight bonus one way or the other.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca UFC.
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