Getting closer…getting closer…getting closer.
Thursday afternoon featured most of the same group of UFC talent from the Wednesday press conference working out and talking to the media at the spot of the UFC Expo Friday on Saturday–the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
From what we got to see inside, the Expo will be a mixed martial arts lover’s paradise, filled with booths upon booths upon booths of the brands we see on the lower half of fighters all the time. The fighters got to work out in a slightly smaller Octagon, which is part of the Expo setup.
Well, then again, not everyone worked out...at least not in the cage.
The BJ Penn/Joe Lauzon Connection
Kenny Florian–set to face Gray Maynard for a shot at the Lightweight title Saturday–led off the day, followed by fellow Massachusetts native Joe Lauzon. Lauzon has been somewhat understated among these proceedings, falling behind Florian for top “local boy” billing.
The bald Brockton, MA, native will take on the returning Gabe Ruediger on the Spike TV prelims, best known for his ouster from the show amidst some lackluster circumstances. Lauzon has been quite the host for Penn, taking the contender on a trip to Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower.
“I’m a history buff,” Penn said, adding Plymouth Rock was his favorite tourist spot. “These guys (Lauzon’s crew) are crazy. They did something at Plymouth Plantation that I don’t even want to talk about.”
Penn had glowing things to say about Lauzon’s speed, saying “I’ve never seen him so fast. I’m impressed.”
More on Penn tomorrow right here on B/R.
Edgar: “We’ll let the fight speak for itself.”
UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar continued his quest on the ‘Respect Me’ tour, but did so in his usual understated manner as that’s the only way he knows how-even as the champ.
“It’s been the same to be honest with you. I’ve only been the champ for four months and right when I got back from Abu Dhabi, I started training for BJ Penn again. It’s not like I had the chance to let it soak in. It was right back to work,” Edgar said.
Edgar said that going into the first fight with Penn, he expected there would be a rematch. By defeating Penn, is he thinking about his legacy in the sport by defeating one of the greats twice in a row?
“Every fighter wants to leave a legacy behind. I’ve got two sons and I’d like for them to look back and say my dad is a bad ass,” Edgar joked.
This will be Edgar’s first career rematch, while it will be Penn’s fifth. However, he hasn’t made any major adjustments in how he prepares.
“You have a pretty good slate to look at and see what did/didn’t work. I’ve been in there with him so I know what to expect. Hopefully, I looked at the fight correctly and found the right things to improve on.”
Edgar didn’t have any issue with James Toney picking up and posing with his Lightweight title Wednesday. In fact, he even had a counter offer.
“I was going to offer him the belt in exchange for that bracelet of his,” Edgar joked.
Your Daily James Toney Update: “I smell fear.”
Toney did not work out for the media, saying he’s never done that. Dressed in a t-shirt, warm-up suit and the bling he had on Wednesday, Toney looked as he did Wednesday: relaxed.
By the way, Toney’s self-estimated totals of his necklace, watch, bracelet, and other diamond-studded accessories came near $400,000.
Toney said he saw “fear” in Randy Couture’s eyes when they had their stare-down Wednesday. He has no trepidations about going to the ground, saying he’s “solid” in that aspect. To witness all that is Toney is quite amazing, especially his interactions with the MMA media.
He has seemed to grow irritated with the increased scrutiny of his cage capabilities, chiding Boston Herald reporter Mark Daniels for his on-the-spot prediction of the outcome and later reportedly getting very heated with AOL Fanhouse journalist Ariel Helwani in which security had to intervene.
Thanks to the camera, footage of this should be available shortly, but I was told it was quite a scene.
Prediction: At around 1:30 am EST Sunday morning, James Toney will be a beloved figure again. He’s playing the right game and knows exactly what’s he doing.
Unless he wins and then, we’re all in for a lot, lot more.