UFC Director of Communications Dave Sholler hosted a media call Wednesday in an effort to promote UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 14, at HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, along with his UFC 142 main event opponent Chad Mendes, as well as middleweight co-headliners Vitor Belfort and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson answered questions from the media. Johnson will be making his 185 pound debut against Belfort.
“There’s more attention and it is a great pleasure to defend my title in my home country. It means everything for me to come back fighting in my country as a champion.
“This is where I started, just with dreams and hopes, and now I am back as a champion. It is a great feeling, but I will try to think about it after the fight. I still have to train hard and win this fight.
“I found a few things in his game I can exploit. I’ve trained very hard for this fight; I never underestimate any fighter and want to remain as champion.
“Going into the champion’s own backyard is exciting. There’s no doubt that he is the best fighter in this weight class. He has some things he is better at than others, but he’s got no ‘holes’ in his game. But I feel I am the same; I’ve sat down with Urijah Faber (coach and friend) and we have come up with a great plan.
“When Urijah fought him, we didn’t red-flag his leg kicks, but obviously we have prepared for that in this fight.
“Other fighters have stood there and let him take them apart; I think I will get in there and get my hands on him. No one else he’s fought has my level of wrestling, to where I will get him down and keep him down.
“The Aldo camp saying I am not ready for a title shot? They don’t know how good I am. They’ve never fought me or trained with me. I am very, very ready for this title shot. He has great takedown defense but my type of shot is a ‘blast-you-off-your-feet’ type of shot.
“He’s the one with the pressure. He’s the champ. He’s the headliner in his own town, while I am the up-and-comer, the underdog. There’s no pressure on me.
“It’s crazy to think that three and a half years ago I was in college, and this trip in MMA has really been a wild ride.
“I knew I would be good at this sport. But to get a title shot after 11 fights is just a dream. I get to travel all over the world. I know this is a short window in my life and I am loving every minute of it.”
“I do believe UFC will surpass soccer as the No. 1 sport in Brazil. It has everything in place – the stars, the athletes – to become the biggest sport in the world. I think it will overtake every sport in the world. People deny that, but I think it is already happening. The Junior dos Santos fight in November had more Brazilian (TV viewers) than Brazil vs. Argentina (soccer match).
“I am so happy to be fighting on this card. I have the coaching with The Ultimate Fighter Brazil coming up (after this fight) but I am 100 percent focused on this fight with Anthony.
“I don’t look for God to help me with wins; I look for God in my daily life. I live my life for Jesus, I try to live by an example.”
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson
“It is an honor to fight in Brazil. I don’t mind fighting in anyone’s backyard, I am a fighter and the Octagon is the Octagon anywhere it is in the world.
“Fighting at this weight is a lot of fun for me. This is easy. I’m 215 pounds right now. I am looking forward to fighting as a middleweight and being a better athlete, a thousand times healthier than I was at 170 pounds.
“You are going to see a new, more dangerous “Rumble” at 185 pounds.”