“Strikeforce: Evolution” takes place on Dec. 19 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Headlining the card will be Actor/MMA fighter extraordinaire and former Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Le, taking on Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith.
Both Le and Smith, along with Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, and his opponent, Josh Thomson, all took part in a media conference call today to help promote the event. Below are some quotes from the call as well as the audio*.
Strikeforce: Evolution conference call (audio):
Quotes from conference call after the jump…
“This is sooner than I expected to come back. I expected to come back next year but I had a movie project that got pushed back. It’s (Dec. 19) a little earlier than I expected but it’s good to be back. I’m excited.
“I’m just going to do one fight at a time. After Dec. 19 I’ll see what’s going on. I’m committed to a couple of movie projects next year but I do want to fight next year but let’s get through this fight first.
“Each one of these fights could be a main event. You have like five fights in one night that could be a main event. Being the main event, Scott Smith and I have a tall task ahead of us.
“I don’t think it’s that hard of a transition to go into movies for an MMA fighter. The hard transition will be if you’re able to get the bigger roles and establish yourself as a good actor and having the producers and directors trust you to deliver the good acting and the action. That’s the big part of the transition.
“It was hard to vacate the belt. (But) it was definitely the honorable thing to do. After 17, 18 months off and running around and doing movies I didn’t feel like it was fair to all the middleweight contenders to fight for interim belts so I decided to give it up because I thought I’d be doing a movie but the project got pushed back till next year.
“I’m a martial artist first before being an actor and I love to compete. I know I can’t do this forever so I want to do it now. This is an opportunity for me to compete and I’m just excited to be back fighting a top contender like Scott Smith.
“I think the San Jose fans can compete with the best anywhere. It’s really never-wracking for me to compete there. I think the HP Pavilion is just a great place to compete.”
“I’m really excited to be a part of this show. Any of these fights could be the headliner so I’m honored to be headlining on this card.
“I think both of our ground games are a little underrated. I like this fight with Cung Le because he’s a banger and I know he wants to go out there and put on a good show. I think we’re going to complement each other on this fight.
“Cung’s a very tough fighter to fight. My coaches have been watching a lot of film and I have too. I’m one of those fighters who has to look at what my opponent does but I have to be more concerned about what I do best and make sure I’m able impose my will.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate to get some pretty high profile fights. I think this is the biggest fight I’ve ever had.”
“I’m going to try and get through this week without injury. I wouldn’t have it any other way fighting who I consider the best fighter in Strikeforce in my division and obviously the No. 1 contender and the former champ. Gilbert is a great person and a great fighter and I’m honored to be fighting him.
“This is a completely different fight than the last fight. I didn’t even watch the last fight. Gilbert, I think, is a different fighter. I think he’ll come in with a different mentality and a different mindset. I don’t want to look at the past. I have to be sure I bring it home again and I’m not really looking at the last fight as a measuring stick whatsoever. It’s going to be a different Gilbert and a different fight.
“I don’t want the media to make any excuses if I go out there and he beats me fair and square. I don’t want people thinking that he beat me because I had all this time off or ring rust or whatever. I’m telling you right now I’m 100 percent. I’m ready to fight and if he beats me it’s because he was the better fighter that night. There is nothing else to it. I want to make that clear to the media now and to everyone who talks to me and to all my friends even and even to the guy who comes up to me in an alleyway and says something to me. I’m 100 percent, I’m ready to fight and I’m ready to bring my title home. If he beats me it’s because he was the better fighter.”
“I think Scott and I are a great matchup. This is going to be a five-round war. I know we’ve been talking about this for awhile now and we’re both ready. I expect a lot of fireworks out there.
“There’s no question I’m here to win. I’m in it to win it for sure. Josh is right. I’m a different man. It’s almost been two years since we last fought and it’s also been two years for Josh so I know that’s he’s a two-year better fighter as well.
“What I learned from that last fight? If I’m going to be in this sport I have to bring my A game every time. Josh took it to me every round last time. Now I’m going to be more prepared. What I learned was I want to be a fighter and if I want to be a true fighter I have to bring my A game every time.”
About the fight being delayed because of Josh Thomson’s injury:
“I feel like it was a blessing in disguise and that the fight is now. Of course, you never wish an injury on anyone and Josh is such a great guy but the fact that it happened twice has allowed me to even get that much better. Those two fights I had were maybe what I needed to build up to Josh and rightfully earn a rematch for the title.
“I know Josh was injured for sure. I know people talk crap but I never bought into it. You can never underestimate Josh and I know he’s a warrior. I’m happy this time has come and I’m happy that I get the chance to prove I deserve a shot at the rematch and just really looking forward to putting on a better performance than last time.”
What happened the last time you two fought?
“I don’t think it was a bad night. I think it was more of a bad training camp. When you work hard it shows in there and Josh put in the work and it showed. That’s why he came out on top. I need to put in a little more time a little more intelligence. There’s no such thing as a bad night. I hope this time it’s a different story.”
MIKE AFROMOWITZ, Strikeforce Director Of Communications
“I think we’ve made an investment to signing more talent this year and I think you’re going to see more exciting matchups in the future between top fighters. There’s going to be a lot of great things to come.
“I think that Strikeforce has built a strong track record and our record speaks for itself. Strikeforce has been around since 1994 and we have a good relationship with our fighters and we’re going to just keep moving forward.
“Signing Dan Henderson is huge signing for us. Dan is a superstar and a great addition to our roster. He’s a great ambassador to the sports inside and outside of the cage and we’re looking forward to seeing him fight in 2010.”
Here is the full “Strikeforce: Evolution” card:
- Josh Thomson vs. Gilbert Melendez
- Matt Lindland vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
- Scott Smith vs. Cung Le
- Robbie Lawler vs. Trevor Prangley
- Muhammed Lawal vs. Mike Whitehead
- Antwain Britt vs. Scott Lighty
- Daisuke Nakamura vs. Bryan Travers
- Juan Nunez vs. Luis Mendoza
- Bobby Stack vs. Alexander Trevino
- Alexander Crispim vs. AJ Fonseca
*Editor’s Note: There’s only about 14 minutes of audio because the battery died on our phone. If we obtain the full recording we will update the podcast.