Motivation running high at final presser!
Story & photos by Anthony Springer Jr
With UFC 92 itching closer, the headlining fighters proved to be men of few words at the pre-fight press conference.
Three days before one of the biggest fight cards in UFC history, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Wanderlei Silva, Frank Mir, and Antonio Nogueira came together to address the media before their respective battles.
With a pending grudge match coming with “Rampage,” Silva wasted no time making a statement. In previous interviews concerning the bout, “The Axe Murderer” hinted at getting “Fight of the Night honors”; at the press conference, he recanted, telling UFC president Dana White that he’s after a different bonus.
“I’m going to give my best,” he said, before adding, “Dana, put my name on the check for ‘Knockout of the Night.’”
The usually jubilant Jackson was somber, and vowed that the world would see a brand new “Rampage” come Saturday night.
“I’ve trained harder than I’ve trained in a long time. You guys are going to see a new ‘Rampage’ and that’s for real.”
In contrast to the bad blood that precedes the Silva-Jackson showdown, there is no ill will between interim heavyweight champion Antonio Nogueira and Frank Mir. For Mir, the chance to fight “Minotauro” takes precedence over the opportunity to fight for the title.
“I have nothing malicious to say to make this exciting,” Mir said. “It’s a pleasure to step in there with the best. Not too many people get to fight somebody they’ve idolized for a while.”
Nogueira responded in kind, with nothing negative to say about Mir.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for my opponent,” Nogueira said. “He’s a very good ground fighter. I promise you guys a good performance and a good show.”
The night’s main event features the winners of the first two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter—Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans.
“I don’t know who that Forrest Griffin guy is, but he sounds like somebody special,” Griffin said jokingly after being showered with praise by White. Griffin then apologized for a late arrival and plainly stated, “I’ll try and show up for the fight on time, I guess that’s about it.”
In terms of appearance, Rashad Evans stole the show, sporting a three piece suit. But his flashy attire was evened out by the humility expressed by the light heavyweight challenger when he took a moment to speak on the upcoming fight with Griffin. “I look forward to a great fight,” Evans said. “Forrest is somebody I’ve been watching for a long time. Following behind him was not an easy task… may the best man win and I hope to put on a good show.”
While the fighters seemed to be largely at a loss for words, there was no shortage of enthusiasm from Dana White, who spoke with Fight News after yesterday’s press conference to give his thoughts on the mega card.
To be honest with you, every one of [the headlining fights] have something that I’m interested in,” he said. “I want to see the Mir-Nogueira fight, if it goes to the ground, I want to see what will happen. Forrest and Rashad; season one versus season two, is it gonna be a bang fest or are they gonna wrestle, what’s gonna happen and who’s going to win? I don’t know.”
White’s level of excitement rose higher when talking about the third matchup with Silva and Jackson.
“I already know, I don’t have to guess what Wanderlei and ‘Rampage’ is gonna be like. It’s going to be a fucking war from bell to bell until somebody’s done.”
UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008 kicks off this Saturday on pay-per-view at 7 p.m. PST.