ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: Fighter Jon Jones speaks during a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena on February 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will hold a media conference call today (September 11, 2012) to promote UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort," which will take place in just a couple weeks (Sept. 22, 2012).
The conference call will begin at 2:00 p.m. ET. Scheduled to attend will be the headlining fighters of the evening, Jon Jones, Vitor Belfort, Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson and UFC President Dana White.
Jon Jones is the current UFC Light Heavyweight champion. He is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but came under intense scrutiny after turning down a short notice fight against Chael Sonnen, a domino effect which eventually led to the cancellation of UFC 151. "Bones" will be seeking redemption by doing what he does best, beating the tar out of his opponents.
Belfort is a former UFC Light Heavyweight champion. He dropped down to middleweight for his recent UFC return and experienced success at 185, earning a title shot against Anderson Silva although he fell short. He's riding a two-fight winning streak and rose to the occasion (literally) by going back up a weight class to challenge Jones on short notice at UFC 152. "The Phenom" has nothing to lose.
Benavidez and Johnson are the finalists for the inaugural UFC flyweight championship. Benavidez destroyed Yasuhiro Urushitani via thundering knockout to advance while Johnson had to work a little extra hard, beating Ian McCall in a rematch after a very controversial draw in their original bout.
We'll have live updates of the UFC 152 conference call after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The conference call is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Jon Jones: It is what it is. I'm in a spot, a position in my career where every word I say, people hang on it. It's whatever. It's flattering at times. At the end of the day, after the adversity, my only job is to stay focused on the goal. I'm focused on the goal.
Jon Jones: Not really. I got to watch him fight live when he fought Anthony Johnson. I sat next to his dad. I tried to watch him fight in Brazil live. I remember Wanderlei Silva when he got that fast knockout, an iconic fight in our sport and I watched him fight Anderson Silva because we fought the same night that night. I respect him as a Christian.
Dana White: One thing you know about me in 12 years, I don't take anything back. Jon and I haven't seen each other yet since that whole thing. We'll see each other in Toronto. He and I need to get in a room face-to-face and talk. I've dealt with every guy you've had do deal over the years, good guys, bad guys and Jon Jones wasn't a bad guy.
Dana White: People talk a lot of shit but nobody's too excited to fight Jon Jones right now. Guys were saying "I want the title shot next" but when the time came, they all turned it down. Vitor called Lorenzo up and was blowing up the fight because he wanted the fight bad. That's why we went with him.
Dana White: Chael wasn't gonna be ready for that fight. Vitor Belfort was already in camp, already in training.
Dana White: We didn't call Vitor up and choose Vitor. Vitor called us up and asked for the fight. If you don't like the fight, don't think it's gonna be a great fight, don't watch it.
Dana White: I'll start with Machida. He was all over saying he wanted Jon Jones, wanted a title shot. He had four-five weeks to train for that fight and he turned it down. We started the process of going to the next guy in line. Vitor Belfort was a world champion at 205 and a champion at heavyweight. Every name in our sport, he's already fought. The guy's fought everybody. He's got explosiveness and power in his hands. If the Vitor shows up with the quick hands and knockout power, this is a dangerous fight for Jon Jones. If you don't think it's a good fight then don't watch it.
Jon Jones: I think it's gonna be great. I think a lot of people are gonna get together and watch this fight. Vitor Belfort is respected among a lot of people. He's very popular in Brazil. I'm sure people in Brazil are gonna tune in, they love him and Americans are gonna tune in. He's got fans with the old school and new school and my name is moving around good and bad.
Dana White: If anybody doesn't think Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort aren't gonna get in there and go after it, it's crazy.
Jon Jones: I learned not to play towards the odds. People will get odds, but they don't fight. I fight and I realize the dangers in this sport. It's a sport, a game where anybody can win at any time. I don't focus on odds, I focus on giving myself the best chance of winning by preparing myself the best way possible.
Dana White: Jon Jones is one of the best fighters in the world. People are talking about Jon Jones and I don't think the cancelling of UFC 151 is going to make him more famous than he was before.
Jon Jones: I don't feel much pressure. Every fight is a high level fight. I think my Rashad Evans fight was the most high level in terms of pressure with the high level. That was more pressure than this situation. I've got a very supportive team around me. I'm ready to go out there and do something great. I'm ready to go out there and do something against a former world champion. I never expect it to be easy. I'm grateful for the position, grateful to be talked about. They say no such thing as bad press and I agree.
Vitor Belfort: Hello to everyone. It's a journey for me. I have a culture. I have joy in in the journey. I'm 35 years old. I've been fighting for 17 years and I had great fights in my career. I fought guys like Chuck Liddell, had four weeks to prepare. I'm a type of old school guy. I trained two weeks in my camp, then I see the cancellation and I see the buzz on twitter, everyone sells the fight however they want. I felt sorry for the fans and I texted Dana and Lorenzo and said "guys if you need someone, I know his position." He's a guy that's the next big thing, we come from different eras. As an old school guy, I said if you need me to go there, let's do it. I have a different mentality than anybody else. I don't fight for the fame and money and position, I fight for the pleasure. I enjoy it. There were times I had depression in the past. Now I'm just there having fun. For me, fighting Jon Jones, I never in my life thought I'd be at the high level I'm at. I'm like a young dinosaur. I thank God every day for still surfing that wave. People turn down fights, I cannot understand, I cannot see that. This is just another challenge.
Joseph Benavidez: Just pure excitement for me. Inspiration and motivation at an all-time high. This is what I've been working towards my whole career, to be a UFC champion. This is the way to start a legacy. It's awesome to be on this card. Even though now we're the co-main event, there's so many more eyes watching to see us do what we do. It's just excitement for me. I'm just grateful for the opportunity in the new weight class and I'm gonna do my best to make it the most exciting division in the sport.
Demetrious Johnson: To be crowned the new flyweight champion in the new weight class, I'm speechless. We're gonna deliver on September 22nd.
Dana has left the call
Jon Jones: I don't believe God gives me an advantage over my opponent at all, but I do believe he helps me live a certain life. I'm constantly trying to develop a relationship with christ. I believe that my relationship helps me live a better life than most 25 year olds would be living. I have the option to be friends with who I want, do what I want. I live a pretty crazy life and I believe if I didn't have Christ in my life, I'd be a hot mess. There's be a lot of craziness going on. Christians compete against each other all the time, I don't think God has a favorite. That's blessing enough.
Vitor Belfort: I had a fight scheduled for Brazil and I'm my own manager.
Vitor Belfort: I was lacking sparring partners and I want to train with the best guys. I had fought Anthony Johnson and was talking and they were nice guys. I went to check it out and came here and I loved it. I love training with amazing athletes. K-1 champions, MMA champions. They have the Brazilian culture here and I'm enjoying it. This team's amazing. They have a lot of future champions here. I love it.
Jon Jones: With Rashad, a part of me saw a guy I had been sparring against I don't know, some of those elbows were vicious but my killer instinct was not there. I hate to say this but I was more focused on winning that fight. My psychology level wasn't there. Vitor is someone I don't know. I think I'll have a better time going out there and feeling like I'm at war. With Rashad, my teammates at Jackson, none of them can say "I hate going against Jon Jones because he always tries to hurt us in sparring." I treat my teammates well. I'm not gonna sit here and say it was easy, but there's something in my bones that didn't allow me to try to really really hurt him. And to his credit, Rashad is an awesome warrior. He's only lost once in like 20 fights. Our styles could be different, our entertainment levels could be different, but at the end of the day we're both winners.
Vitor Belfort: I'm just focusing on the process. I'm not focusing on what people say or what people think. I'm gonna go there and do all I can do. That's what everyone should do, do their best. That's it. I'm not overthinking. I'm just enjoying every day. It's a great challenge, going back to my old weight class for a big fight. This is a big fight and I'm enjoying the process. I don't have any pressure. To be happy, smiling, go through everything I had to go through. I learn how to be happy. It's gonna be a great challenge and I love challenges.
Joseph Benavidez: It's gonna mean a lot for me and my team for sure. Urijah and Chad both had title shots and I think they'll bring the gold back again. People think we're one of the best teams of lightweight guys but the one thing missing is a UFC title. I'm a product of them and what they push me and taught me. It would mean a lot to me to bring the belt back for sure. If they would have won it, it would have been just as motivating.
Jon Jones: I'm over it man. I really am. I really am. I'm actually getting more excited to get this behind us. The UFC is the boss and brand. In this situation, I had to stand up for myself and do what was right. Holding a personal beef against Dana gets me nowhere. He has the right to express how he feels. He has the freedom of speech. I think the fans are starting to realize it's not my fault. I'm not a UFC executive. Dan Henderson got hurt. I'm over it and ready to move forward. Me and Dana are on the same team. Me as an individual athlete and I can't do that while having a problem with the UFC. I'm ready to get past this. Greg Jackson said it best. Dana White is a very passionate guys. He goes to people that have no interest in the UFC and he spreads that passion and gets them to invest. Was I surprised that he belittled me? Yes I was surprised but then I'm over it.
Jon Jones: I'm sure when I get to Toronto, we'll get together and talk about it face-to-face. I'll explain how I felt. I'm sure he knew about it through interviews and I know how he felt through interviews. We're both grown men. We don't have to agree with each other. People have disagreements and I think ultimately, my relationship with the UFC will be even stronger.
Joseph Benavidez: The best way to deal with it for me is to keep my eyes on the prize which is the belt. When I started in the sport, my goal wasn't to be the main event. It was to be the champion. I'll continue to fight with my whole heart and put on a show and main events will come. The belt is all that matters. I'll have even more fans watching so that will help the process speed along even quicker for me.
Demetrious Johnson: My body feels good two weeks out. Everything was healthy. I was given a misdiagnosis so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. All the swelling went down and I got to start up camp for this fight. Everything is good.
Tom Wright: Ticket sales picked up quickly since Jon Jones got added to the card but there are still some left. I'm confident this will be a success.
Jon Jones: At the end of the day, people are gonna do what's right for themselves. A lot of people put their time into this and the event never happened. I acknowledged what happened but at the same time I had to do what was right for my family. No one ever brought up the conversation of who really made the decision, saying "Dude you cancelled it, not Jon Jones." That was the lesson ultimately learned by me. At the end of the day, people are gonna do what's right for themselves. Nobody's giving him crap and I didn't take the fight. People did what was right for themselves. Five years ago, I was just an average kid. I was in high scool, competed in sports, went to college, dropped out. I say what I feel and some people totally dig me and believe what I say and some people think I'm totally arrogant. First they said I was too fake and some people think I should hire a PR guy. I'm just me. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect and I won't always say what people want to hear. I've done everything the way I know how to. I won't take anything back. I called Dan Henderson an old man and he called me a kid. I thought we'd handle it with grace. I didn't get injured and the fight was supposed to go on. Chael Sonnen had nothing to do with the situation. Outside of calling Dan Henderson an old man, that's the only thing I did that was classless.
Jon Jones: I don't think what other fighters said was uncalled for. I'm not here to be popular. These guys are awesome and I respect them all as warriors. They aren't my best friends. I don't know if they have that illusion or not. I'm here to work. I do my assignment, do it the best I can and I move on. I'm not gonna get twisted because fighters are talking about me.
Jon Jones: I'm not gonna embrace the role of a villain because I'm not a bad person. For all the people that think I'm cocky, if you really listen to what I'm saying, I love this sport so much that I owe it to myself to think of myself in the highest regard. You've got to be full of yourself to master your abilities and speak highly of yourself. I'm not sorry about that slight arrogance. As a person, I'm the nicest person ever to everyone that's met me. I'm the nicest person to people. I'm like the nicest person ever. I know that for a fact. I'm comfortable with that. I'm not gonna embrace the role of a villain because that's not who I am as a person. I love strangers. At the same time, I'm gonna say what I think is true and be more comfortable with myself. It's a strange journey. Everyone hangs on every word I say and every tweet becomes a new article. I want to express myself as a person. I'm comfortable with who I am.