UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson conference call highlights

The UFC held a conference call today (Feb.14) for the media in anticipation of next Saturday’s UFC 144 (Feb.25) event in Japan. UFC 144 goes down at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

The conference call had main event fighters Ben Henderson and UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, as well as co-main eventers Ryan Bader and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Below are highlights from the conference call (Thanks to MMAmania.com)

Frankie Edgar

  • Obviously I’m super excited to go over to Japan. They’ve got a great culture and they’re huge fans and they’ll appreciate the show we put on. It’s different than Abu Dhabi, but this isn’t my first go-around.
  •  I’m not concerned too much with where the fight goes. It could go anywhere. I want to come out strong on the first round and build form there. That would be the best scenario.
  • I’m not gonna be blindsided by the long trip to Japan.
  • I didn’t even know I was the favorite. I don’t really pay attention to those things. I’ve been the underdog most of the time and I’m finally favored to win. The more I win, the more respect I get so that’s always the plan.
  • I’m not gonna try to go out there and try to out-condition someone, I want to outfight them.
  • My last two fights, I lost the first round. I don’t want to be down big in the fight against Henderson so I have to be sure I’m on my A-Game right out of the gate.
  • It’s definitely refreshing to train for someone new. With my injury, I had to train for Gray for quite a long time.
  •  It’s the excitement of having a new opponent, a fresh easel to paint on. It’s also definitely a concern because you’ve never faced them before, so you’ve got more to prepare for so it’s a little bit new.

Ben Henderson

  • I think that everything happens for a reason. The lord works in mysterious ways. Maybe back then, I wasn’t quite up to snuff but here I am now and I’m ready to run with it and give it my best shot.
  •  It means quite a bit to fight in Japan. Japan was the mecca of MMA early on. I’d like to be the spark of what is the return of Japanese MMA and mean more globally.
  • I wouldn’t say I have unfinished business with Pettis. I definitely want to avenge that loss and I have a soft spot in my heart for that loss. Anthony is a great guy. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’ll work his way to the top. He had that loss to Clay Guida and I’m sure I’ll see him again. If he ever gets a shot at my belt, let’s do it.
  • I’m excited to be the main event because my last fight, I was put on the backburner even though it was going to be an exciting fight and to have my fight not aired and overlooked.
  • I think a pretty similar effect, a lot of similar movement between Frankie and Clay. Frankie is a little more polished and he has great movement, non-stop movement. After the fight, i was very thankful to have fought Clay because his movement through me off against Clay and hopefully that will help me against Frankie.
  • There’s a lot of things I wouldn’t think of on my own, adjusting training times when we get there, what times we spar at all and all that stuff. I didn’t think about food, making sure you have the food your body needs and whatnot. The food over there will be quite different. Pre-weigh-in food, you’re on a pretty strict die and there’s a couple other things I wouldn’t have thought about.
  • I definitely have long-term goals, short term goals, but that has been my goal when I first went into fighting period. No one of the best, top five, top three, I want to be the best pound for pound fighter period. I don’t think me beating Frankie at all gets me anywhere near the conversation, I think I have to defend the belt. Anderson’s up to 12 or 13, after I beat that, then I can be in the conversation.
  • Frankie is very fast and he has a great straight right. My boxing coach thinks he’ll have a lot of faith in that straight right after knocking out Maynard. I’ve got accustomed to that. I’ve been in a couple of big fights myself and I’ve had my share of big fight experience. I think what I’ll be most worried about is losing each round by a hair. Frankie does a great job of doing really good work to win a round, and just enough to win the next round and the next so at the end of the fight, you’re doing five rounds to none. You might not be too damaged, but you lost to Frankie Edgar. That’s what I’m worried about.
  •  I’m a little bigger now. I wanted to do it the right way. No one puts on 20 pounds of muscle in two months. It takes 3-4 years to put on actual legit muscle. I put on a little bit of size and it has not personally affected my cardio at all. It hasn’t really affected me logistically at all.
  • It was a great time to go out there and meet one whole side of my family that I’d never met before. It was really cool. I met 30-40 different cousins, I don’t remember their names. I got to hang out at some army bases, meet some soldiers. Just in general, being with my mom, it meant a lot to go out there. That was what I most enjoyed, the smile on my mom’s face the whole time she was out there. My great uncle, my grandpa’s wife and a couple different cousins are coming in for Korea.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

  • I’m really excited about going back to Japan, there’s no secret about that. I love that place. I think it was because of my exciting style. I put on exciting fights for the fans. Pro wrestling is big over there and that translated to my style a bit.
  • It’s a no-brainer. The UFC was going back to Japan and I got my big break in Japan. You know I wanted to be there. I wanted to be on that card.
  • I think if anybody has a chance [to revive the scene], its’ the UFC. The UFC has surpassed Pride and if I have anything to do with it, I’m gonna go there and fight my heart out and put on a big show. I want to give these Japanese fans the best fight they’ve ever seen.
  • If I gave my thoughts on the matchmaking in the UFC, Joe SIlva wouldn’t talk to me anymore. I think Pride had matchmaking for exciting fights. In America, all they’re concerned about is who’s gonna win, but it ain’t about that. It’s about excitement. In America, we’re still light years behind the Japanese fans in that department
  • My manager informed me not to go into my fight to get onto this card because that would upset people in the UFC.
  • It’s very important to me personally. My kid’s grandparents, they never watched me fight back in the day. I really miss the fans. I’m not gonna lie. I really miss fighting there. It means a lot to me personally. It’s just something I want to do.
  •  I think the crowd will be really happy to have some mixed martial arts over there. I heard some buzz. Everyone was waiting for the fights and they can’t wait for the UFC to come there.
  • I was broke as hell when I went to Japan for the Sakuraba fight. I’ve been to Japan a few times recently. It’s kinda weird. When I’m over there, they don’t recognize me. I don’t have my chain on or anything.
  • I never thought that I would open up a gym. It’s no secret that I never liked training but in between fights, I was getting out of shape. I opened up a gym in my hometown and we’ve got a lot of students. It’s a family place and that’s the kind of atmosphere I like.

Ryan Bader

  • It’s a big fight. I don’t feel like I’m stepping into his backyard. He’s fought over there a lot but we’re both traveling over there. We’re both gonna be in the Octagon. His fans and who he’s beat, they’re not gonna be in there with him. I relish that underdog role and I trained my butt off so I’m ready to go.
  • You’ve got to take something and do something good with your losses. We made some changes as a team. We got new head coach, new boxing coach instead of being in charge everything. Film is watched, the gameplan is done. I felt great going into my last fight and I went out there aggressive and some people fight not to lose but that gets them away from what got them there. I felt comfortable in my last fight and I take that into this fight. I felt I progressed as much in four months as I did in four years.


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