Zuffa LLC isn’t taking any time off as they go right back to work this weekend in Seattle as the Key Arena hosts UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis on Saturday evening.
Originally Nogueira was set to take on the colorful veteran Tito Ortiz, but following an injury while training, Phil Davis was tabbed as a replacement.
In the co-main event of the evening popular Brit Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy takes on Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in a three round welterweight bout.
In all there will be 12 bouts for fans that attend the event in person and four of those fights will be televised live on Spike TV for the rest of the country to tune into.
Yesterday the UFC hosted a national media conference call with Nogueira, Davis, Hardy and Johnson. Here’s some of the highlights of the call:
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
I was already far into my camp for Tito, but Phil’s a wrestler too, so my training doesn’t change too much.
This is definitely a great moment in my career. I’m very honored to be fighting in the main event of a UFC card and its a big step for me.
If you change opponent, you change your focus in a fight. So its definitely a different state of mind.
Phil is a really strong wrestler and that’s something I had to work on in training.
We trained together not too long ago and I think Phil is a very tough guy, a very strong wrestler with very strong ground skills. So overall, I think he’s a very strong fighter.
I’ve been working a lot and dedicating myself to wrestling in the past year or so and I feel like I have improved a lot. I’ve been working a lot on it to face all of these wrestling opponents and I feel like I’ve really jumped ahead on my wrestling.
Its an excellent opportunity to fight Nogueira. I’m thrilled just to be in the same octagon as him.
He’s one of those guys that have been around forever. He presents a challenge in every area: Stand up, on the ground, against the fence.
Everywhere that something could go wrong, something probably will go wrong with someone who has been around this sport that long.
It definitely took a lot of thought before I agreed to this fight. Its a great opportunity, but at the same time it’s a huge challenge.
So, I talked it over with my coaches and everybody on my team and made sure it was a fight that made sense.
I think it's an honor that people are saying that they think that I will fight for the belt one day, and Lord willing, one day I will.
I’m really not the guy to say where I will fight next. Right now I have to worry about Nogueira. If I don’t get past him there is no title shot.
I’m definitely going to take some time off after this fight to improve my game. This fight came a little sooner than I wanted to step back in the cage.
This fight gave me an opportunity to just step back and look over my last five fights and see what I need to improve on and see where I made mistakes and just gave me a little time to get myself together before the next person I’m going to fight. Its going to be a very very big fight.
(Fighting five times in 13 months) It’s not really how I would have liked to start off my UFC career, but I’m here and I’m healthy so I cant really complain much. But, I suspect in this next year, I’ll probably be dropping it down a bit from this last year.
I need to make sure I take enough time in between fights to make sure I’m growing.
(My stand-up) has come along right on schedule. I’ve been putting in the necessary time.
(Jon Jones) was able to accomplish so much in a relatively short period of time, so I don’t know how I could look at him and not be a little bit inspired.
Who will win the main event?
There is definitely pluses and minuses to (fighting so often), but I am thankful for everything that comes my way.
I was already pretty pumped to fight in Canada (at UFC 129). Everything has pros and cons. Not as many of my friends are going to be there (now), but a lot more of my friends will be able to watch it live.
I don’t really get nervous. I don’t really get performance anxiety because of the number of people that could be watching. There’s still one person standing across the cage, that stays the same.
Me and Anthony are friends, we’ve always gotten along well. So there was no point in fabricating (a grudge) because the fans just see through that kind of thing.
I just didn’t want to waste my energy doing that. And I don't think Anthony bites for that kind of stuff, he’s a pretty chill guy.
I’ve just invested that energy in the training camp instead and I’ll do all my talking on Saturday night.
I always like to put that kind of pressure on myself (a must win fight) because I always perform better. I didn’t do that in my last fight and I paid the price for it.
I’ve kind of put myself in a mindset where I feel like I’m fighting for my job and that’s the worst place where I could possibly be for my opponent because they’re going to get everything I got and a little bit more.
Its going to make a big difference in this fight, I’m going to prove that I belong in the UFC and I’m staying in the UFC.
I think it’s important to look back sometimes. I can’t learn from my mistakes unless I’m still living in that moment sometimes.
As soon as my last fight was over, that Monday morning I was back in the gym and sparring Tuesday. I was eager to get back in there.
I was annoyed that I’d let myself down and I’d let my fans down. I’ve stayed in good shape and I feel strong.
I think looking back and continuously reminding myself of the mistakes I made last year is motivating me for this year. I’m going to make sure 2011 is completely different.
I got back to the UK just before Christmas and as soon as the new year started I started training camp. I’ve got my guys around me at Team Rough House.
I was just a little over confident (against Condit) is all it was. I let the moment get to me and my self confidence get to me.
I didn’t have any respect for the guy or his striking ability and I just kind of left myself open.
It was a silly mistake and it was regrettable, but I wouldn’t take it back because it got me to where I am at right now and I am at a much better place than I was then.
And I’m not, by any means, finished with Condit, he’s got it coming to him, but right now I have to focus on the next guy.
I always do my camps in the U.K.
My time away from training camps, I travel around the U.S. and I try to expand my game by training with different guys and sparring with different people.
But, whenever it comes to fight time, I like to come back to my home and back to my teammates because I know they’re going to look out for me, but at the same time they’re going to beat the hell out of me to the point where I’m going to be in the best shape I can be for the fight.
I like to be around people that I trust are going to look out for me and are going to have my best interest at heart, and at Team Rough House I’ve got that.
Its always good having Paul (Daley) around. I’ve been working with Paul now for nine years.
I was his sparring partner when he first started fighting pro. I was constantly evolving to try and keep up with him. We always have good sparring sessions because we always have new stuff to offer.
Paul’s been training over in Amsterdam and I’ve picked up a few new skills from him that he learned over there.
There’s always some emotion in a fight because its either me or him. I’m interested in my career and my future, so that’s going to be my main focus.
So it does get emotional, especially with the things I have to sacrifice over a training camp.
I mean 11 weeks I’ve been training for this fight, focused on Anthony Johnson and that does make me a little bit resentful because I have had to sacrifice and I have had to put myself through all of this because of him.
Nothing against him, but right now, its his fault I’ve had to do this training camp.
Nothing has changed. I fight because I love it. The roll of the dice, the throwing punches and receiving them is part of the fun for me.
As I look back over my career, I’ve knocked out so many people that at some point it was going to happen to me.
But the odds are definitely in my favor because that’s the first time its happened to me. That was my one knockout in the next couple hundred I am going to hand out.
We should be the main event. No disrespect to Phil Davis or Nogueira, but the fight that is selling the card is this one.
Who will win the co-main event on Saturday?
You know for this fight, I have an opponent like Dan Hardy.
He’s always been a respectful guy, always been one of my favorite fighters to watch and always been a good friend. He’s a top athlete, I’m a top athlete, we don’t need to go back and forth.
We know what we can do and the fans know what we can do, so we’re going to do this on Saturday and show the world what we got.
When I said I was thinking about going to 185, I just said that to get everybody talking and it worked. You know, you got to keep your name out there some type of way even when your out for a year.
170 is still my home. It has the best athletes, the best ground fighters, the best stand-up fighters, the best everything. So I don’t want to go anywhere, I want to stay at 170.
Going through training camp again felt normal. I just stayed calm and didn’t try to force anything new into my camp or anything like that. I just really worked my butt off to get back to where I belong.
As far as looking forward to Saturday night, what is there not to look forward to? I’m looking forward to a battle because I know there is going to be one and I’m expecting Dan to really bring it.
Which fight are you most looking forward to?
I don’t expect anything less from the man because that’s the kind of guy he is. And I expect the same thing from myself.
It feels great to actually start feeling old injuries again. It means I am doing something right because its not new injuries, its the same injuries. And the most important injuries that I had, have been fixed.
The other injuries I get from training, every fighter gets. You get bumps and bruises here and there. This is nothing new to me and my body is really used to this stuff now. I’m feeling great, I’m happy and I couldn’t be in a better place.
I don’t think GSP is giving up his belt any time soon. He still has a lot of guys that want a piece of him.
Has he conquered the weight class so far? Yes, but are there guys that can still take the belt? Yes. And I think he is up to that challenge. If he moves up to 185 then that will be his choice and then so be it.
I tore my meniscus about three years ago and I never got it fixed. I was to stubborn, I just sucked it up and kept on moving.
But every camp I was always tweaking my knee and that just kept riping my meniscus more and more and I just never got it fixed.
Then I was supposed to fight John Howard and I knew that with a guy like that, that I really don’t like, I didn’t want any excuses for anything.
So I decided to have surgery because I tore my meniscus again when I was training for Howard and I just needed to get it done and over with.
This is the big leagues, you can’t go in there with to many injuries. It feels great now and I haven’t had one complaint about my knee since I had surgery.
I kept my camp pretty much the same. Dan is a great stand-up fighter, so I had pretty tough stand-up fighters around me. I’m not really changing anything. Just got to watch out for what he’s good at.
I got pretty big after sitting out for a year. And I got lazy for a while with my injuries and feeling bad for myself. I started eating all kinds of crap, which was nobodies fault but my own.
Now my weight is great. I’m feeling good and I can’t wait for Saturday.
I will probably come in around 180, maybe 185. We’ll see.
I try to make a statement every time I fight to let everyone know who I am. That’s just who I am, period. I have to go out there and show that I’m back.
It’s time to go out there and put them hands up and do what me and Dan do best, and that’s throw punches and knock people out. So, one way or another, somebody is getting knocked out, and no disrespect, but I’m going to be the winner.
Hell no. This fight isn’t going to the ground. You’re talking to two guys who like to bang. We don’t like that lovey-dovey stuff.
-Stay tuned this week for more UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis news as it develops throughout the week.
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