With the first event of the year for World Series of Fighting right around the corner, the promotion held a conference call today that featured athletes from the upper half of the televised card. The WSOF 8 competitors on the line included Justin Gaethje, Rich Patishnock, Anthony Johnson, Mike Kyle, Jessica Aguilar and Alida Gray, along with WSOF President Ray Sefo and Executive VP Ali Abdel-Aziz.

Here are some of the highlights from todays call brought to you by ProMMANow!

Ray Sefo touched on the progress made with WSOF in 2013, kicking off the year with a great card stating, “Obviously 2013 was a great year for World Series of Fighting and we are looking forward to kicking off the year with two world title fights and our first female fight. I couldn’t be any happier than where we are.”  

The company frontman briefly addressed the challenge to Bellator laid out by Executive VP Ali Abdel-Aziz this week“As far as the challenge out there offered to Bellator, I haven’t heard one negative comment about it. Twitter and Facebook are blowing up all day since that challenge was offered and people are saying let’s make it happen. Someone asked me about what the outcome would be and I would say 10 out of 10 in favor of World Series of Fighting.”

Ali Abdel-Aziz discussed the possibility of Anthony Johnson signing with another promotion and how the organization is not going to stand in the way of these athletes moving forward with their careers. “The fans are always going to go with the fighters. If Anthony (Johnson)’s contract is over and he wants to go fight for a different promotion then we will give him a big hug and wish him luck. This is 2014. This isn’t boxing. They are different sports. Everyone should have a dream and should pursue them. When Ray, Shawn (Lampman) and I started this promotion we said: fighters first. This is why we have so many fans behind us and supporting us. We may not be the biggest, but we know that the ones who do tune into NBC Sports are truly MMA fans.

Following a question regarding those in the MMA community feeling like “Notorious” Nick Newell was snubbed on the title shot against Gaethje, Ali replied, “I assure you we have a big fight coming for Nick Newell in 2014. I have probably the biggest fight of his life on the biggest stage. I’ve been planning this for almost seven months. Everything is about timing and Nick just fought. And we can’t just have all the stars on one card. We want to be able to share the stars on different cards.”

An energetic Justin Gaethje expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to fight for inaugural LW belt stating, “I want to thank the World Series of Fighting for selecting me to be the face of their lightweight division. That’s a big thing that they are entrusting me with and I’m excited about that.” The undefeated finisher then went on to give his take on what should be a very entertaining fight with Patishnock, “Rich throws a lot of punches and has a great takedown defense. This is a great matchup skill-wise for both of us. It’s going to be an exciting fight and what I really try to do is give the fans an exciting fight. That’s all I can really control.”

Rich Patishnock also praised the WSOF and assured the media that he is more than ready to leave it all on the line January 18th despite taking the bout on short notice, saying, “I was happy I was given this opportunity and I was getting ready for a fight anyway. I didn’t feel much pressure taking this fight on such short notice. You don’t fight for a specific person. You have to fight for yourself and concentrate on what you’re good at. You come up with a game plan but it really never sticks.Win lose or draw I’m glad I’ve been given this opportunity.”

Anthony Johnson appeared relieved that the fight with Mike Kyle is finally coming to fruition following a string of injuries for both athletes, “It’s going to be exciting to get this fight over with. It seems like it’s been about a year. I had to pull out the first time and then Mike had to pull out the second time. But we’re finally getting it done and both of us are healthy.”

“Rumble” went on to describe his opponent briefly and when asked if a title shot is on his radar Johnson stated his focus is solely on defeating Kyle stating, “Mike is talented and has one of the best camps you can ever go to, AKA. He says he wants to push my cardio, well let’s push it. Fighting for the title isn’t really on my mind right now. The first step is beating Mike Kyle and we’ll go from there.”

Mike Kyle appealed to the fight-fans that have been waiting to see these two throw down and explained how he plans to push the pace on Johnson“It’s a bummer fight fans have had to wait this long for this fight to happen. We’re going to let those fans see a great show and I’m just excited to be a part of something like this. I really want to push the fight and push his cardio and see what kind of shape he’s really in. This would make for a great championship fight but it is what it is and I’ll wait for my time.”

Top ranked straw-weight Jessica Aguilar says she is ready to seize the moment and that all of her hard work has led to this point, stating, “I’m going to give everything I always give and going to leave everything inside the cage. I’m just excited and grateful. It’s been seven and a half years of hard training to get my first world title shot. All the hard work and those hours are finally going to pay off.”

Aguilar went on to recall her father telling a young Jessica that she could pack a punch and that regardless of the outcome she is ready to win, “Growing up my father was a karate black belt and we would have contests to see who could punch him the hardest in the tummy. And at the end I would always win and he would always say, ‘For being so little, you punch hard.’ I’m not going to predict what’s going to happen. If I knock her out, great. If I tap her out, great. I’m just looking for a win. However it comes I’ll take it.”

No. 8 ranked challenger Alida Gray said she is ready to make a name for herself with this opportunity and isn’t phased by the step-up in competition, stating,“It hasn’t been overwhelming getting ready for this fight. I watched Jessica fight before I turned pro. I told my coach I’m ready for this fight and ready to take these caliber fights. Finally this summer we made the decision that I was going pro. I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t know my name. She’s out there and she’s well known. She’s No. 1 ranked. But come Jan. 18 people will get to know me.

As far as how she matches up against Aguilar and if she plans to use her judo to get the victory, Gray replied,“I think we’re both very well-rounded fighters. I’ve been practicing on my stand-up. My judo is going to be there naturally. I’m not going to rely on it, I’m going to depend on it. I think my advantage is that I’m the underdog. I’m going in there with nothing to lose.”

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