Here we go again. In the aftermath of a crazy weekend of fights, Ultimate Fighting Championship is right back in action promoting its next event, UFC on Versus 6, which is taking place at the end of the week (October 1, 2011) in Washington D.C.
Cruz has risen to the top with a unique fighting style that has baffled every opponent in his way. He recently defended his belt against the only man to ever previously defeat him, Urijah Faber, at UFC 132. His opponent, Demetrious Johnson, is coming off the most impressive victory of his career against former WEC champion Miguel Torres at UFC 130. He's hoping his speed can make up for Cruz's unorthodox style.
The co-main event features a a very unique heavyweight battle as 6'11 Dutch fighter Stefan Struve takes on 5'11 American kickboxer Pat Barry. Both men are coming off of thrilling knockout losses in fights they had been previously winning and this has the potential to have the most awkward pre-fight staredown in UFC history.
Cruz, Johnson, Struve and Barry will participate in a special UFC on Versus 6 media conference call today (September 26, 2011) at 1 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 1 p.m. ET.
1:10 p.m. Still waiting for the conference call to begin.
Dominick Cruz: My career is bigger than beating Faber. There are more goals past that. I wanted show the way I'd been improving myself. I set up new goals for myself and I'm prepared for Demetrious. There's a lot of things he's good at and a lot of tools he brings to the table.
Dominick Cruz: We're friendly towards each other as fighters. You have a choice before a fight, you can get along and go fight them or you can be antagonistic towards each other and fight them anyways.
Demetrious Johnson: It's the way the world sees me. Every fight I came into I come in as the underdog. I'm ready to show the world what I've got.
Dominick Cruz: It definitely feels different. The media has chopped probably in half and there are responsibilities you've got to take care of media wise. It almost feels like I'm back in the WEC again. Doing the media before UFC 132 kinda set the bar for me. The level of media that you have to take care of an the responsibilities have been chopped in half.
Demetrious Johnson: I am not working full time anymore. I gave that up once I got the call that I was gonna be fighting Dominick. I thought it's a title fight and Dominick is on a different level than anybody else and I felt I owed it to the fans and my family to go full time. I worked construction before, run a machine, drive a fork lift, it was a labor job. I did it for all my fights, Brad Pickett, Miguel Torres. After those fights I'd have to wake up and go to work the next Monday. When I broke my leg, I went back to work that Monday.
Demetrious Johnson: I'm hoping it will make a huge difference. When I was working I barely got any rest. Now, I'm waking up and going to the gym, swimming, getting my lift on and going home, then heading out to cross-fit. I'm more consistent now. I feel more improvement and my speed and strength have gone up. I feel a calm confidence.
Dominick Cruz: From the things that I see. He's got momentum behind him. He's considered an underdog and I know how that feels. I came up very similar to him early in my career working a full time job and juggling that with my fight career. You've got all these naysayers saying you can't beat so-and-so. I know what it's like to be an underdog. He's got a big heart, great cardio and he's got good speed and good rhythm. Something he does that other people don't do is he's got a rhythm in his stand-up style. He moves in a certain way and that's something I'll adjust to as the fight goes on and something that I've been preparing for in my camp.
Dominick Cruz: Benavidez was a test on speed and Faber was a test on speed. There's different kinds of speed. Demetrious has quickness with his speed and they were more quick movement. Range beats speed though. There's things he'll have to deal with in my style that can mess around with his quickness.
Demetrious Johnson: I made a lot of adjustments in my style while preparing for Dominick. One of my coaches that teaches me striking has watched 15 hours of footage on Cruz. He imitates Dominick and he's faster than I am and he's able to fight me in the right spots where he can pick up the style. He could imitate Floyd Mayweather and that's what he brings to the table in my training camp. Just having great training partners like Bibiano Fernandez and I've been sparring with my coaches Matt Hume and wrestling with them. I'm always fighting for my life in my training. I think that's gonna be a huge factor
Pat Barry: In all actuality, I personally don't think reach will be that big of a deal in this fight. Everybody that Stefan fights and trains with is shorter than he is and everybody I spar with is bigger than I am. How often does Stefan fight a guy that's taller than him. I don't run into heavyweights that are shorter than I am. I'm accustomed to guys being taller than I am and Stefan is accustomed to guys being shorter than he is. I don't think fight will make it any different.
Stefan Struve: I plan on using my reach and picking him apart but I love to fight and brawl too. I think my reach will be a big factor.
Stefan Struve: The last fight I made a stupid mistake of coming in with a knee strike when he was coming in with a punch. I've been working on that with new coaches too. I'm always working with getting better and getting on the outside and using my reach the way I should. I plan on showing that on Saturday.
Dominick Cruz: reach is a big deal if you know how to use it. It can be easy to get sucked into an inside game and throw heavy. You have to fight like a tall fighter, keep the range where you want it and then nullify speed and you're forcing guys to telegraph things. I think it's something that can be used very effectively if you know how.
Demetrious Johnson: I agree with Dominick. I fought Miguel Torres and he has a reach of heavyweights and it's all about distance. It can be a jab clinic if you let it. You have to close the distance and get it where you're comfortable. Range is a huge part.
Pat Barry: I brought in this huge kickboxer Maurice Greene to help me prepare for Struve for three weeks. He's 6'7 so that's a big help. I also had my coach Marty Morgan stand on a stool sometimes for me to throw punches and kicks at.
Demetrious Johnson: I look at it this way. I could go out there and Dominick Cruz could destroy me and I go back home and keep on going or I can go out there and put on a fantastic show and go back home and enjoy my life and go to the gym and be ready for my next fight. I'm ready to get more time in the Octagon. It's gonna be a hard fight but I'm going to go out there and perform and see what happens. If I can keep myself on that path, it just goes better for me that way. Anything can happen.
Demetrious Johnson: I see myself in the same boat as Frankie Edgar. We're both small guys and I like it that way. I want to fight in this weight class as long as I can. If I go out there and lose and they come out with 125, maybe I can do that.
Demetrious Johnson: This whole year, it's been a fantastic year and I'm ready to bang.
Stefan Struve: When McCorkle started talking trash on twitter, I didn't know the guy. This time, me and Pat know each other for 2 1/2 years and we've always been cool with each other. This isn't trash talk, more of hyping up the fight and people are looking forward to it. Getting the fans engaged. This is gonna be real cool.
Demetrious Johnson: I don't think there's added pressure, I'm looking forward to see if it helps, I know it helped my training camp and allowed me to push my body to its limits. I can eat when I need to eat to make sure I perform. It's something in the back of my head. If I get destroyed and fighting Titan FC, I could be fighting at a warehouse again. What do I got to lose? I'm just trying to make a name for myself and just take it to him.
Dominick Cruz: There was such a debate about that fight. My opinion on the matter is that Miguel Torres didn't want to be on his back. He has a good guard and when he tried to use it, he didn't get a submission. You can try for a million submissions but they don't count unless you get them. Demetrious wanted to put him on his back and he put him there. It was a close fight and I can see if the judges scored it either way. Torres should have made an adjustment in the second round, using his jiu-jitsu to get the fight back to his feet. Torres was ok with being on his back, he didn't get a finish on the ground and he lost the decision. You've got to be aware of where you're at on the scorecards.
Dominick Cruz: Our careers are one fight away from being forgotten in my opinion. The only thing people remember is your left fight. It's hard to buy all kinds of stuff, drive all kinds of cards. I like to keep my life where it is and live cheap, God forbid I bust my eye socket and am out for a year and have the bills pile up with no income.
Dominick Cruz: I'm driving a Honda Civic
Dominick Cruz: I don't ever turn down possibilities like that (moving up to featherweight and challenging for the title there). I haven't really thought about it to be honest. I've had two camps back to back. Each fight, I'm focused on what I'm up against. I will say I won't turn down the opportunity if it comes up in the future.
Pat Barry: Even heavyweight?
Dominick Cruz: Sure (laughs)
Dominick Cruz: I do a lot of drilling, a lot of padwork and working techniques to improve and keep people guessing. Every single fight I want to be a new fighter, add something new to the arsenal, doing what I do best and adding to it every new fight. I want to not take a lot of damage and inflict a lot of damage at the same time. With that mind-set, it's escalated from there and added to my style.
Dominick Cruz: I would say the Charlie Valencia fight. That was when I really started to believe that I could piece things together like I did in practice and it worked exactly like I did in practice. You do all this work every day in practice and sometimes you second guess if it will be like this on the big stage. When I fought Charlie Valencia, it flipped the switch in my brain. It's about doing everything 100% in practice and you can perform the same way you train.
Pat Barry: I always wanted to be a ninja ever since I was a kid. Every Halloween I was a ninja. Ninja turtles, playing street fighter. Now, we actually can be real live ninjas without the weapons. I can actually make a living and do something I've wanted to do ever since I was one. I've accepted it. Sometimes you're gonna lose. You can't win all the time. Eventually you've got to fall. That's the only way you can grow and get better. If I lose a fight, it sucks and yeah, I don't want it to happen, but as long as I know I fought my heart out and I did my best whether it's broken limbs or whatnot and just keep on coming, I know that it's gotta happen. It's like if you fail a test in school and you go home and sulk for five days, there's nothing you can do about that. You can be pissed all day and night and I know it sucks but once you've turned the test in, it's done. Once you lose a fight, you lost. That's it. You can learn from it and get better or sit in a chair and rot, rot away. There's winning and there's learning experiences. We win or we learn, one of the two. The only way you really lose is if you come out of an experience and you don't take anything away from that. You stay the same person. If you wake up tomorrow and you're still the same guy that you are today, then you are not advancing, you are not growing, you are not learning, man. Other than that, it's just a real-life video game. And you get paid to do it? That's ridiculous.
Demetrious Johnson: I learned a lot from Brad Pickett. When I fought Miguel Torres, I knew he had a dangerous ground game. A submission is when the fight is over with. I with I hadn't broke my leg because I was beating him in the stand-up and injuries happen during fights and I trained too hard to just throw in the towel. I made an adjustment which was to put him on his back. Sometimes I passed guard. When he was on top of me, he just held me. Whenever I got a chance to reverse him, I reversed him. I won the stand-up and the wrestling. Jiu-jitsu? I don't know.
That's a wrap!