UFC Gym Grand Opening in Corona, Calif.: Coverage and Interviews, Pt. 2
In his interview with the media, Phil "Mr. Wonderful" Davis discussed several topics: his upcoming fight with Rashad Evans, Jon "Bones" Jones, and his favorite fighters.
On how he's going to fight Rashad:
"I'm just gonna go and do what I do: go in there, strike with him, wrestle with him, take him down, ground and pound, look to submit...MMA him, if you will."
When I asked him about whether or not he was concerned with Rashad's wrestling ability, given that they were both collegiate wrestlers, Davis quickly asked, "Can you tell me his wrestling pedigree?" to which I had no reply.
Davis brought up a great point. While Rashad is often touted to be a successful collegiate wrestler, upon further research, his wrestling "pedigree," as Davis put it, pales in comparison to Davis' NCAA career. While Davis had an overall record of 116-17 and was an NCAA Division I All-American four times (winning a NCAA title in 2008), Evans was only 48-34 at Michigan State.
He would later go on to add, "I like him. I have a lot of respect for him."
I also asked him about his thoughts on the development of Jon "Bones" Jones has made since their time together with LionHeart in 2008-2009:
"At the time...I was so bad I didn't know how good he was! He still came a long way from where I saw him to where he is now...he's come a long way."
How would he prepare for a fight against Jon Jones? "I'd approach the fight as I approach every fight: baseball bats and billy clubs, man."
When asked about his favorite fighters, BJ Penn easily made the list.
"I mean, I like different things about everybody, you know? I like BJ's kinda like...crazy style...BJ's like 'brawl,' he don't care. I like that. He'll fight anybody. I-I will not, I won't fight 'anybody.' But BJ would, and I like that about him. BJ would fight [Alistair] Overeem. I won't...but BJ would. I like that about him."
It's clear how Donald "The Cowboy" Cerrone feels about Cole Miller. As soon as his name came up, Donald immediately responded, "[Expletive] that bum." When pressed on why he feels such animosity towards Cole, he responded:
"I just don't like him...not because of him beating Leonard [Garcia], nah, I don't think that's any reason, but just the way...his attitude prior to the fight and after the fight, and just his overall attitude now...I just don't like the dude. And I plan on calling him out until I get that fight; as a fighter I want it, I want it, I want it, and if I gotta chase his [expletive] down to 145 then I will."
He also stated that "[The fight] is gonna happen, 100 percent."
On the tension between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones, Cerrone's torn. As a member of the Jackson fighting camp, Cerrone's stuck having to juggle his loyalties: one being with a recently ex-teammate and good friend, and the other with a current, successful teammate. On the controversy, Cerrone stated,
"Man, Rashad left camp, but Rashad was there, I mean we were like a family, you know, and he was there before everybody when it was just Rashad and KJ, you know, and that's where my aisle sits...I'm a Rashad fan to the end, and that's how I feel, so whether he left camp or not, I'm in Rashad's corner...Rashad's a good friend of mine, man, I talk to him all the time, it sucks to see him have to leave the team because of a bunch of [expletive], so yeah, I'm hurt by the situation."
"Jones is a good dude, man, he's young, and he's talented, and he's got all the right weapons and all the right tools. He's a cool dude; I got nothing bad to say about him.
I had a chance to ask him about TapOut Ranch, a new 10-acre housing/training facility he purchased in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"It's going very well, man, we just got the gym completely built up, though it aint nothing like the one you guys got here, but [expletive], it's good, man, I love it. Leonard [Garcia]'s been on the road all month, so he gets back, and we've got 25 guys out there right now, so things are going good...We got a bunch of up-and-comers; that's the plan, man, to build them up."
Cerrone's also recently became a big fan of Mark Hominick after his latest performance against Jose Aldo. While he admitted he's not the biggest "fan" of the sport and doesn't watch all the fights, his favorite fighters to watch are the guys that "just throw down and say '[expletive] it' and stand their ground."
It's no surprise, considering Cerrone's definitely one of those guys. No stranger to "Fight of the Night" honors, he's never afraid to bang and trade blows.
Leonard Garcia's hit a bit of a slump lately, and he knows it. Having won only three of his last eight fights, all of which went down to a split decision, things haven't been going easily.
"I've been taking so many fights back-to-back, and I haven't had time to be in the gym, no time for drilling, no time for anything, it's basically been just getting into shape to fight again. And I've had so many opponent changes that I never have a chance to really sit down and focus on one guy, because I'll be scheduled to fight somebody and then at the last moment they'll switch it to somebody else."
As a result, his camp's going to focus on taking few fights this year to adequately prepare for each matchup. "I fought six times last year, and it really hurt me more than anything."
In the meantime, Leonard's been focusing back on his wrestling and also getting his blackbelt in jiu-jitsu later this year.
About his fight with Chan Sung Jung, aka "The Korean Zombie," Garcia admitted having never seen the twister before. However, right after the loss he was in the back room, training with Greg Jackson, and making sure he'd never be caught in a move like that again.
As for his transition to the UFC from the WEC, Garcia stated,
"It's been great; of course, I was in the UFC before, and to come back at a different weight class where more people knew who I was, and had more exposure, it's been much better for me. I'm accepted better in the UFC."
For UFC 129, Garcia threw a viewing party for the armed forces at the Nellis Air Force Base. I asked him about what the armed forces mean to him:
"The armed forces, I mean, they're our heroes. They're great people and they really do risk life and limb for us to do what we do, just in life, period. So any time I get an opportunity to do anything with the troops, I'll do it."
Leonard's been asking for a big fight against a guy like Michihiro Omigawa, but may be slated to fight Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres, instead.
BJ has kept himself busy, working with the UFC and finally getting to go-ahead for construction on the coming UFC Gym: BJ Penn in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Still nursing the bad shoulder that will keep him out of the originally scheduled UFC 132 rematch against Jon Fitch, BJ remained firm that we have not seen the last of him in the UFC. While admitting he's not at 100 percent, he confirmed that he wants to fight at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro.
"I still wanna try for that, so I'm just gonna go home this next couple weeks, and really baby my shoulder, and really check up on it. I wanna fight, we'll see now."
Being that he's nursing an injury, I wanted to know BJ's take on the recent announcement that UFC fighters will be eligible for accident insurance.
"That is amazing; it brings a lot of validity to the company itself, that their going out of their way to do something like this. I mean, what's the first thing [people say] when anybody signs up for the UFC? Like, 'You crazy, you don't even have medical!' Well, now they got accident insurance."
While BJ may not have anyone in particular that he wants to fight next, without a doubt, fans are pulling for him to make a quick recovery and make his return at UFC 134. Fighting in the home of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would only be fitting for a pioneer in the sport.
Unfortunately, Urijah Faber and Arianny Celeste had prior engagements and had to skip out on the media interview sessions, and I was unable to get Chuck Liddell for a one-on-one interview.
However, look forward to my interview with the Senior Vice President of UFC Gym, Adam Sedlack! We'll be talking about the UFC Gym in Corona and other locations, goals of the UFC Gym and its impact on the surrounding communities, events that will be taking place, and much, much more!
For Pt. 1 of this two-part series, click here.
For fighter interviews at the UFC Gym grand opening, click here.
For more of my work, click here.
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