ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: Fighter Jon Jones speaks during a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will hold a public press conference today (Sept. 20, 2012) in advance of UFC 152: "Benavidez vs. Johnson," which will take place in just two days (Sept. 22, 2012).
The press conference will begin at 12:00 p.m. ET and will take place at the Real Sports Bar and Grill in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the home city of the event. Scheduled to attend will be the headlining fighters of the evening, Jon Jones, Vitor Belfort, Joseph Benavidez, Demetrious Johnson, Michael Bisping, Brian Stann 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.
Both Stann and Bisping are top middleweight contenders. Stann has gone 4-1 with four stoppage victories since dropping down to middleweight while Bisping has been defeating opponents left and right and even raised his stock in defeat, pushing Chael Sonnen to the limit this past January in a very close bout. Both men will be trying to potentially get a crack at the champion.
We'll have live updates and video of the UFC 152 press conference after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The press conference is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. ET.
12:15 p.m. - We're getting started.
Dana White will not be here.
Jon Jones: Dana White is a very passionate guy. He takes that big passion and he gets MMA legalized. I forgive Dana White and I'm just looking forward to talking to him and moving forward. I think we're both ambassadors of this sport. We need to put this past us.
Michael Bisping: To fight an amazing champion like Anderson Silva, you have to have an amazing performance. Of course I think I can beat him. After I beat Brian Stann on Saturday night, I want Anderson Silva.
Joseph Benavidez: When you put your goals down to be world champion, you can't imagine being the first ever. It's really just a cherry on top. We're here to leave a legacy. It's the extra motivation and inspiration. Being on top means everything to me.
Demetrious Johnson: To accomplish something like this at the highest level and being the first ever champion, it would cement my legacy.
Vitor Belfort: In life, we all have goals and dreams to fulfill. I learned something that was very important in life. We make history but the most important thing was living right in the present moment. I came to America with a dream. Not just to be a champion but to see my sport become a mainstream sport. People used to criticize us and having a champion like Jon Jones, all of us here, most important for me is to leave a legacy. We're men of honor and character. being a champion I think is just creating a legacy for the future.
Michael Bisping: Every time I come up to Canada, I'm blown away by the passion for MMA. The last time I was here was in 2008, it was one of the greatest moments of my career.
Brian Stann: A lot of fighters when they find out there are Canadian events coming up, they call up Joe Silva and ask to be on the card. The fans are packed and it's a completely different environment.
Joseph Benavidez: I've heard mythical tales about the passion of Canada fans and you guys haven't let me down. I'm soaking in every minute of it.
Demetrious Johnson: This is the second time I've fought internationally and you guys have topped Australia so far.
Vitor Belfort: We've been training. I went to Blackzilians not just for this fight. I was supposed to fight Alan Belcher and to work on the wrestling skills, the gap in my game, I love to train with champions.
Jon Jones: I definitely believe I've maintained focus. It's awesome to be in this position but it's extremely stressful. I look at the adversity in my life as opportunities to grow. It made my life more interesting. I gave everybody something to do. I believe I've grown from all of it. I appreciate the curveballs life has thrown me.
Demetrious Johnson: We're here fighting our natural weight class against guys our size. Saturday night will submit how awesome the flyweight division and how awesome things are to come.
Joseph Benavidez: Saturday night we'll be proving something. This is the big introduction. It's great that we're in Canada with these fans and I know 100 percent we'll deliver. With time, the fights will continue to be great. I know 100 percent every fight is gonna deliver.
Jon Jones: It's been different. The biggest difference is having a lot of people believe they know me already when really there are so many sides to me. A lot of people are so opinionated when they've never had dinner with you and know who you are. I trust my personality and let other people be the judge and worry to much.
Jon Jones: I'm a guy who prides myself on having great cardio and solid gameplans, knowing what I'm getting into. I went into that Dan Henderson fight 100 percent prepared for a grueling five rounds. Having the opponent switched is I got prepared for different angles and a gameplan. I feel more explosive. I didn't have to focus much on cardio because I have a full tank of gas. I focused on martial arts training. I expect to fight cleaner than I ever have before. I had a phenomenal additional four weeks.
Joseph Benavidez: We had the opportunity to go to a Coldplay concert and I sat next to Demetrious. We fed each other popcorn. We were in the same arena, the Air Canada Centre and here was this crowd right there going crazy for a band. I realized that in a few months, people would be going crazy for us. Maybe they wouldn't be crying and waving lighters, but even then I was thinking about taking him out.
Demetrious Johnson: It's not gonna affect anything at all. I plan on putting on a great show for the Canada fans and having a great time.
Jon Jones: As far as the 151 situation, I definitely really feel horrible about the way it all played out. At the end of the day, I'm hoping the fans opened their mind about the situation. I'm not a UFC executive. I don't have the power to cancel the event. They never told me that if I didn't accept the fight they would cancel the event. At the end of the day, being a world champion, I dedicated my whole life to this. To put my belt on the line to satisfy the people around me, I owe it to myself to protect it. I did what was right for myself and trained for the Vitor Belfort fight. I do believe that with a good performance that it'll be behind me. I believe a good performance will help people forget and I think this whole situation will bring me and the UFC closer. A lot of positive is going to happen from this.
Jon Jones: Ultimately my brothers can't decide who wins or loses. I'm very interested in who plays the hardest. If Chandler plays better than Arthur, he'll never hear the end of it.
Jon Jones: I'm not Anderson Silva. I can defend a double leg. I believe in being prepared. I wouldn't have been able to do my homework with the Chael Sonnen fight. Hopefully we'll be ready to be there tonight.
Michael Bisping: We settled our differences. Joseph Benavidez turned down a fight with my son. We're good now.
Brian Stann: I can't speak for everybody but I believe from most fighters I encounter at this level that you're born with a competition inside you. For us, we can't live without some kind of obstacle in life. We'd be very bored doing something normal. Being a fighter gives you a challenge you can prepare yourself for that you can compete. Each fight, we become a little different of a person and learn a little more about ourselves.
Michael Bisping: This is what I'm best at. This is what I love. This is the best way I've provided from my family. There's a lot more interesting things to talk about like how I'm going to beat Brian Stann's ass on Saturday night.
Joseph Benavidez: I've been fighting in some way or another all my life and this is the natural progression for me. I'm inspired by succeeding in this one life I have, making my family and friends proud. It's my favorite thing in the world to do.
Demetrious Johnson: When I started this sport, it was an outlet for me. Trying to be competitive my whole life. I didn't want to get tired or lazy. It was a different world for me. That's why I do it.
Jon Jones: I don't know if it would have made much of a difference if they had told me they would cancel it, but they didn't do that. I put my whole livelihood with that fight. If I had lost that fight, lost my championship, Dana wouldn't have lost enough sleep. Why wasn't that a good enough card? Why did it have to be cancelled? I think that was an insult to the fighters saying they weren't good enough to keep the event without me and Henderson.
Jon Jones: When Vitor won his first title, I was a little boy somewhere. I remember when he knocked out Wanderlei Silva with those punches. It was a beautiful moment for mixed martial arts.
Michael Bisping: There's more cards these days with more fights so it seems like more fighters are falling off cards.
Tom Wright: You can only do the first thing once. When we came here in 2011, it was the first time in this province. People from all around the world, every state, every province. This is the third time in a short time. We'll be back here next September and the September of 2014. This is a great opportunity for Canadians to watch our sport because there's a void right now. Hockey is in a lockout. We may not have hockey night on Saturday night but we can have fight night.
Vitor Belfort: Everything you eat and drink, you have to be smart. Eat healthy and try to stay healthy. Live balanced with your body, your spirit and soul.
That's a wrap folks. Thanks for stopping by!