Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will hold a media conference call today (Nov. 27, 2012) in advance of UFC on FOX 5: "Henderson vs. Diaz," which will take place a week from Saturday (Dec. 8) at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.
The conference call will begin promptly at 2 p.m. ET. Scheduled to attend will be the headlining fighters of the evening, Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz, Alexander Gustafsson, Mauricio Rua, B.J. Penn, Rory MacDonald and UFC President Dana White.
Henderson is the current UFC lightweight champion. After losing his WEC strap at the end of 2010, he tore through the UFC 155-pound division, knocking off contender after contender before earning a unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 earlier this year in Japan. He eeked out a controversial decision in a rematch against "The Answer" this past August and now he's ready for a new challenger in Diaz.
Nate Diaz won the lightweight season five of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and had a nice run in the division, but he's really shone brightest since returning to the division following a brief four-fight run at welterweight. His current three fight win streak over Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller looks incredibly solid on paper and he's hoping to give Henderson a completely different type of test.
Mauricio Rua is the former UFC light heavyweight champion. After losing the title to Jon Jones, he's traded wins and losses, most recently defeating Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on FOX 3 this past August. He turned down a short notice shot at the title, but a victory over rising prospect Gustafsson could get him right back on track.
Alexander Gustafsson is one of the best young contenders at 205 pounds. After his lone loss to Phil Davis, he's reeled off a solid string of performances against top competition including his first headlining stint at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in his home country of Sweden earlier this year against Thiago Silva. Now, he's looking to take it to the next level with a huge win over a former champ.
Last but not least, B.J. Penn is a legend in the sport. A former champion at welterweight and lightweight, he's returned to the 170-pound division with mixed results. After a strong start with a 23-second knockout over Matt Hughes, he's drawn with Jon Fitch and was pounded by Nick Diaz last year, forcing an impromptu post-fight retirement speech. He returned from hiatus to take on one of the best young prospects in the UFC in Rory MacDonald. After the bout was delayed, it's ready to go down in a week and a half.
Brian Hemminger here. The conference call will begin at 2 p.m. ET.
2:12 p.m. - We're finally getting started. Shogun and Gustafsson are not here yet.
B.J. Penn: I was just hanging out and the itch to fight again and it was better than staying home and sitting on the couch. I realized I can't do this forever so I wanted to do it while I can. As far as fighting Rory, he's an up-and-comer and everyone says he's gonna be a champion soon. It wasn't a tough decision. I wanted a tough fight against Tristar again. They are a great club. I think it's a great fight all around.
B.J. Penn: I'm not gonna sit here and get into that with everybody right now. I'm sure there are people in all sports that bend the rules, so I'm not gonna point the finger. As far as doping, it's a painstaking thing for the UFC and I don't want to put them through that. If I was gonna make a comeback I wanted to make it as safe as I can. I'm not saying Rory MacDonald is using steroids. That's all it is. I'm protecting myself.
Dana White: I don't have any details on GSP-Anderson Silva. Georges St. Pierre went on vacation. He's not even back from vacation after the fight so we haven't talked to him. We haven't talked to anyone yet.
Dana White: The guys come up through The Ultimate Fighter. Nate Diaz has been fighting for years. He's fought everybody. The guys that come off The Ultimate Fighter. It's our Triple A, to introduce our guys but Diaz and Swick and a lot of these guys have been around for a long time.
Eric Shanks: We're not looking to announce anything today or in the near future. We continue to look at options. We have a lot of great network properties. Regardless of what network channels are called, the UFC is a great commodity. The UFC will play a huge role on the broadcast network and cable. UFC will play a bigger and bigger role as time goes on.
Dana White: We're gonna shake up the industry again, just like the last 15 years with the stuff we're working on. These are the guys I want to be with forever.
Benson Henderson: I think the first two Frankie fights, the first one was close and everyone was hoping the second would be more decisive but it was even closer. As far as beating Nate, I'm just looking for a victory. If he slips on a banana peel, I'll take it. If it's even closer than the second Frankie Edgar fight, I'll take that too. Getting the W is very difficult in the UFC and we all fight to be as decisive as possible but sometimes when you're fighting the best guys on the planet, it's almost offensive to say you'll finish your opponent no problem. I'll try to get my hand raised as much as possible.
B.J. Penn: I'm just focusing on this fight. I've got no more plans after this. Once I do have plans, we'll call Dana and talk after that point. I've got no plans after December 8th. I put my whole life into that.
Dana White: The strategic idea is to put the best fights we could put on Fox. It's tough to put a fight card together. I want to say to all the guys on the call, tone your training down a little bit. Let's not get injured in the last week and a half. As far as title fights, this is the way it lined up. The same with the Johnson-Dodson fight. At the end of the day, we're a pay--per-view company. You showcase these guys on free television and it helps build the sport, the fighters and we've got the Road to the Octagon this Sunday and it tells the stories of Nate Diaz, Ben Henderson, Shogun, Gustafsson, Penn and MacDonald.
Nate Diaz: I've been training the best way I can. Train hard with all my teammates and being as ready as I can be.
B.J. Penn: I think super fights are great. It causes a lot of hype and Dana knows that. Look at the name itself, super fight. It's what this sport was about, it's what it's build on. You get the two best fighters in the world and put them in the cage. Dana White, you're the man.
Dana White: Being on one of the biggest networks is huge. Fox is a global media company and Eric Shanks is a young, aggressive, smart guy that we love to do business with. I feel like we have a great relationship with this company and we're all talking about big long-term projects. It's impossible for this sport not to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
Eric Shanks: This thing will be one of the top sports in the US on television.
Dana White: We're still working on TUF with the guys on FX.
Dana White: It's always a pain in my ass when I talk about deals before their done (concerning women in UFC)
Rory MacDonald: I don't care. I just want to fight more often. Quality or whatever, I don't care. After this fight with B.J. I'll be ready to fight by March as long as I keep my weight in check. It won't be a problem for me to take a fight on short notice now. As far as how I changed things up with how I'm training, it'll work out with me fighting more.
Dana White: There's a lot of hype behind [Rory MacDonald] and you never know until you see a guy. This is a big fight for Rory. The one thing you know about B.J. Penn is you're not going to run over him. B.J. does not cut, he's never been knocked out. He's got good stand-up, great submissions and wrestling. He'll be a big test.
Dana White: GSP delivered again. It was a great weekend for us.
Rory MacDonald: I'm being a little bit more smart with my training in terms of taking days off. Before I never took days off even if I was hurt. If I feel my body breaking down a bit, I'll take a day off. It's been keeping me healthy and I think for me, health is the most important. I know how to fight. I'm in shape all year round and if I'm healthy, I can fight on a minute's notice. I just need to be healthy, that's all.
Rory MacDonald: No, Georges St. Pierre won't be in my corner, I don't think so. I didn't really ask him anything. I watched his fights and he told me a few things but I'm not the kind of guy that wants to know everything about somebody. I really don't care. For all I know, B.J. could have changed his training and he's a muay thai fighter now. I just get better as a martial artist and I react to what's in there. He told me a few things that are interesting but that's about it.
Mauricio Rua: It's important to take it step by step. Right now, I'm focusing on Gustafsson and everything is changing one day to another. Right now, I'm focused on Gustafsson.
Mauricio Rua: I tried to train everything. MMA right now is very competitive. You have to be ready for everything.
Mauricio Rua: I told Lorenzo that I needed six weeks. It wasn't enough time in advance. They offered me two weeks and it wasn't enough time to make good preparation. I made a wonderful camp for the Gustafsson fight. Everything is okay, no injuries. I'm ready for this fight. I think it's the fight everyone wants to see because we both look for the knockout. We're strikers and the fans will have a wonderful show. Let's see what's gonna happen.
B.J. Penn: I got back to my old trainer that trained me for the jens pulver, Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk fight. I started this training camp at 40 percent body fat and I was going to go in there and give it my best effort but Rory pulled out 10 weeks before the fight. He said he saw me and I looked fat and he'd end up killing me. I'm down under 10 percent now. I'm ready to go. I'm expecting the best B.J. Penn I've ever seen. We'll see how it plays out.
B.J. Penn: Fighting is still not a sport for me. I don't know if I should still be saying that. I'm not a great athlete that can play any sport. I can't do much different sports but one thing I could always do is I could always fight back. I go into the fight, this is a fight. this isn't putting a ball in a hole. It's always been a fight for me. I love it when it's that way. I love it when my opponent says things to me. it's wonderful. I couldn't ask for me.
B.J. Penn: I never lost my old mentality. I lost the ability to prepare properly. I won't be able to do this the rest of my life and I want to give it a good shot.
Nate Diaz: I think it's good. My whole team has been champions somewhere down the line. Maybe it's my turn to represent for my team.
Dana White: It was a good show. The king of pay-per-view is back. That's what we'll say about it.
Eric Shanks: We don't do ratings projections. It's not a game we like to play. The demographic make-up for these fights is off the charts and this one will be as well.
B.J. Penn: No one says my name when they talk about the greatest fighters anymore and that really bothers me. I know that's my fault. My name was always in the mix. I told Dana I had a real problem with that. That was part of my motivation to come back and look strong on December 8th....I'm a glass half empty kind of guy. I don't want to be known as being good back in the day. I want to be one of the best. I still think I have something left to accomplish.
Nate Diaz: If you're not in the UFC already, TUF is a good shortcut and way to go about it. I don't like sitting in a house with all those dudes.
Benson Henderson: I just need to continue doing what I'm doing. It doesn't happen overnight. If you want to be the best MMA promoter and build your company up, it takes time. You have to lay the groundwork, stay on that grind, stay at it and eventually you get those big, huge national deals. If you put the work in, it will fall into place. I have huge shoes to fill and I'm excited to take that chance.
Eric Shanks: We would love to. We think that super bowl week in New York will be like anything else. We're gonna own that week and there's nothing better we can think of than a big fight that week. We'd love for that to happen. We'll see if they can put that together.
Eric Shanks: We think so. The thinking there is that FX is in a lot more homes than Fuel. It's a funnel. The more people you have watching the prelims, the bigger the fight will be. We want the funnel to be as big as possible.
That's a wrap folks. Thanks for stopping by!