Here we go again. In the aftermath of a crazy weekend of fights, Ultimate Fighting Championship is right back in action promoting its next pay-per-view, UFC 135, which is taking place at the end of the week (September 24, 2011) in Denver, Colorado, the birthplace of the UFC.
Headlining the pay-per-view will be the return of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones as he looks to defend his title for the first time against former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson.
Jones has been on an incredible run in the UFC and the promotion believes they've got the next big thing in their hands, although "Rampage" Jackson is hoping to derail the hype train after back-to-back victories against Lyoto Machida and Matt Hamill.
The co-main event features a welterweight tilt between former champion Matt Hughes and recent title challenger Josh Koscheck. Both Hughes and Koscheck are coming off high profile losses at the hands of B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre respectively and are looking to get back on track.
Jones, Jackson, Hughes and Koscheck will participate in a special UFC 135 media conference call today (September 19, 2011) at 2 p.m. ET.
MMAmania.com will deliver up-to-the-second live updates of the conference call after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The call is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
Matt Hughes: I think it's pretty cool that this fight is where UFC started. I think any of the guys could have answered this question. I wasn't in the UFC when the UFC entered Denver. I was just a fan of the sport watching via cassette tape or watching it live.
Josh Koscheck: I didn't even know what the UFC was then.
Josh Koscheck: I've been training for about 4-5 months. I took about three months off after my fight to recover. I went back to my basics, jiu-jitsu class and just going back to where I started, learning all over again. I helped a lot of the Strikeforce guys in their training camps so I've been training for quite a while. Fighting Matt Hughes is a good comeback fight for me. I think the fans deserved this fight a long time ago and now we're getting the opportunity to do it.
Josh Koscheck: I was planning on fighting in San Jose. I thought it would be cool. I fought twice in Canada last year and nothing against Canada but I wanted to fight closer to home. Fighting in Denver is gonna be a great thing. It came about when Diego Sanchez broke his hand and I got a phone call from Crazy Bob Cook about fighting Matt Hughes and I didn't even hesitate. I was in shape and ready to go. This is a big fight for Matt Hughes and it's a great fight for me and I think it's a great fight for me.
Matt Hughes: I opened a gym an hour away from my house. You drive an hour to train, work out and drive an hour home. I had a general manager that took care of anything and I didn't have to do anything. I knew what got me where I am today and it was not running businesses.
Matt Hughes: I'd been training for a little while expecting a particular fight on this card and it's not gonna happen. They originally said Jon Fitch so I was jumping off a flight and they called me back and said Josh Koscheck. It's Dana White's call, not my call on who the fight's gonna be.
Josh Koscheck: I was definitely interested in fighting at 185 because everyone at 170 was tied up and there wasn't really an opponent in the division that I was really eager to fight. I was thinking that I'd go to 185 and do a rematch with Chris Leben, I know Wanderlei Silva was looking for a fight. I was just looking for a big fight. Things happen for a reason but I texted Dana White when that went down with Diego Sanchez getting hurt.
Jon Jones: Maybe because I took the backseat to the conversation. I'm very aware why I'm here. I'm not here to show I'm better at arguing, talking or insulting. That's not my mission. If I had it my way, I'd do as very little media as possible but this stuff is mandatory. You're talking about an opponent that threatens and harasses every opponent in his history. I'll let him talk and have his fun and make me look like the scared one but I'll show him in the Octagon on the 24th.
Jon Jones: The only thing that bothered me originally was the spygate situation. Not the accusation specifically but that the fans believed that I would actually pay someone to go to his camp and watch him and report to me. I'm aware of the character that I'm up against and it will make me better in the future. I have opponents in the future that will be big talkers as well and this will make me a better champion.
Rampage Jackson: I don't care about stuff like that. People can assume that I talk. Most of my opponents, I'm the aggressive guy. Go back to my interviews before Marvin Eastman and Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, I react to how guys act towards me. Jon Jones didn't respect me at the press conference and I have no respect for him. I don't care to be in his head or not. That's not my job either.
Josh Koscheck: I wasn't gunshy at all. I got right back in there against a lot of good guys that hit hard. I was sparring with Luke Rockhold and King Mo getting ready for his fight. I feel I could have fought a while ago and I just wanted to take some personal time off and focus on some other areas outside of fighting. I'm anticipating coming back strong on the 24th.
Josh Koscheck: In wrestling I had a fusion of the 5 and 6 vertebrae in my back and I was out six or seven months and then I was right back. I was only out three months and then I was back to training. I'm always two weeks or three weeks away from being ready for a fight.
Matt Hughes: I did most of my camp in Salt Lake City
Josh Koscheck: I've fought in that area before and I'll be ready.
Josh Koscheck: The time off was good for me and then I got back to regular training. I've been training and I think it was good. I got to focus on a lot of other areas that I normally didn't get to focus on, getting away and spending some time on normal things. I got to slow the game down and go back and be a student for a while. I hooked up with my Muay Thai coach. We split ways about a year ago and we got back together. That was an added bonus for me so I've been working with him for eight or nine months.
Matt Hughes: It's the competition that drives me and the top athletes in the UFC. I don't have to rely on four other basketball teammates to score a basket, I just rely on myself. I consider myself a lucky man. I love going to the gym every day, twice a day. It's a great lifestyle.
Matt Hughes: I enjoy my time off. That's fine for me. It gives me a chance to work on lifting weights and techniques to stay in shape.
Jon Jones: I don't feel like this has been the biggest media barrage. Leading up to the Shogun fight, I had the pressure of preparing for a legend like him in six week's time. That was tremendous pressure and on top of that I had the "In the Moment" camera crew following me around from when I woke up to when I left the gym. That was a major distraction and I was hoping it didn't affect my mental game. I honestly feel the Shogun fight was a lot more pressure and a lot more in general. They had a camera crew watching me train, watching me eat. It was weird for me, I felt like an actor. I brought a jiu-jitsu coach with me to work out in between media and we're going over the gameplan and I feel great.
Jon Jones: I've been able to finish fights without getting knockouts and I'm comfortable with that. I just fight my fight and I'm not one to swing for the fences. I'm happy with my style and you got to see what I believe is a more "on-hand."
Jon Jones: I thought Rampage did a good job in the A-Team.
Jon Jones: I definitely have respect for Rampage. That's why I'm so excited to fight the guy. I watched him in college trying to slam people and he's done so much in the sport, I can only go up by facing him. I'm looking at this as skills vs skills and it's not personal to me at all. I fight and spar every day and that's what it is to me.
Matt Hughes: B.J. Penn is a very intelligent fighter. I made some footwork mistakes and tried to correct that. Boxing footwork is a lot different than wrestling footwork and it's not been easy for me to pick up as far as punches.
Matt Hughes: This is the last fight on the contract. After this fight win or lose, I'll talk to the UFC and figure out what we'll do. My wife wanted me to be done after the B.J. fight so we'll see what we'll do after what happens Saturday. We'll make the decision then.
Jon Jones: It was different. Shogun, I really looked up to him a lot because he was the Pride champion at 24. It inspired me that I could be great at a young age too and that's what made the honor so special fighting a guy like Shogun and it showed in my performance that I knew what I was getting into. It's still a huge honor for me to fight Rampage. He's been in the sport for a long time and beating him will be appeasing to me in so many ways.
Rampage Jackson: When I had to fight Machida, I wanted to be the first person to beat Machida. He was the man and I though the was unstoppable. I want to be the first person to beat Jon. I looked at a bunch of his fights and realized he hadn't fought anybody like me and people are counting me out. I think Jon will go on to be a better fighter but I don't want him to have the pressure to be undefeated and I'm the first person to give him that first ass-whoopin so he can go on to be the fighter he can be.
Rampage Jackson: At the press conference in Denver he was saying stuff that was uncalled for. I don't know if he was joking but I took him serious. If he thinks that, remember that he started all the shit-talking first. The same thing with Rashad. Even in my Pride career I always joke around because I'm very confident when I fight. I let them say something to me first and he said some really cocky stuff.
Jon Jones: I was waiting for an example or a quote from him of anything that I said that was out of line other than self assurance from me that I would win this fight. I remember him saying stuff like "I dont' care what Jon's gonna suck on" or "He's getting destroyed" or "Bambi legs." I'm not softening up now. It's the fight game and I'll be ready for the fight when it comes.
Rampage Jackson: I've been misquoted. I didn't say nothing about your legs. You remember when you were sitting at that table and you said something smart and you were doing your cocky smart talk and I remember that.
Rampage Jackson: The answer is no. I'm not even looking forward to fighting Rashad. I don't like people that fight that way. Rashad let down the fans. That fight was well-hyped and Rashad talked a whole lot of smack but he didn't back it up. I want a fight that will make mixed martial arts popular. That's a hard thing to do, I don't see how the fighters can do it themselves.
Jon Jones: The only other time was when I fought Brandon Vera. He had said "Jon Jones thinks he's the second coming of Jesus Christ." At the weigh-ins I got out of character and he got under my skin a little bit. People that anger me, it definitely make me fight better. It makes me fight better because I prepare better. I try not to insult my opponent. I just say things that I believe to be true. I don't want to make comments that could come back and bite me so I try to not speak too much when it comes to insults and just focus on training. I don't have any anger heading into this fight. I just know what I'm up against. The awareness helps me keep my composure.
Rampage Jackson: Jon Jones does have skill. I've got to be honest about it. I'm not looking past the kid at all. The only person he really fought was Shogun and he'd been coming off a year injury. That was a very rusty Shogun. If you've had enough fights, you know what it's like to be rusty. I'm not putting him up there as one of the best yet.
Rampage Jackson: I didn't notice it at first but you can tell he puts on the act in front of the camera but after a while his head got really big. The stuff he was saying at the press conference it made me a bit agitated. I got nothing against Jon Jones personally. I know he's down with the Lord, I know what's up with him but I just want people to be real all the time. He was real humble at first but when you meet him he seems really cocky. He should know that we are all supposed to be humble.
Josh Koscheck: I was in a lot of pain after the fight. I had neck surgery a couple times when I was a kid. When I was four years old as a kid I cut my toe off with a hatchet but the pain was nothing compared to the eye surgery. The nerves are so sensitive but I got through it with pain pills and morphine. It was something that I don't want to go through every again. It taught me to move my head and not get punched as much. That's something that we're focusing on. I'm blessed to be back in the Octagon again. It sounds like from all these interviews with Rampage and Jones, it'll be a good night for the fans.
Josh Koscheck: I always knew I would be coming back. The doctors I saw in Boston, she was amazing. She didn't have to put any other lacerations on my face. She went in through an old cut and went in and fixed it. She's worked with a lot of great athletes over the years. Here I am again after a 7-8 month layoff and I can't complain. I'm back and I just gotta come back and prove I'm back.