Complexe Desjardins in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was the latest stop on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 11-city, six-day "World Tour" to promote five championship bouts that will take place over the course of four pay-per-view (PPV) events to cap off an "historic" 2013 for world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) organization.
UFC Director of Canadian Operations, Tom Wright, hosted the press conference (watch video replay here) with special guests Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks. St. Pierre and Hendricks will headline UFC 167, which takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 16, 2013.
Wright took the stage to announce the details of UFC 167, middling himself between the sharply dressed champion and his challenger, as well as the championship bouts that close out the year.
"(Johny Hendricks) has fought here three times (Montreal) and won here three times", Wright said about the Oklahoma All-American. "He has an impressive resume of fighting skills".
"You train, you develop yourself to get to where we are," Hendricks said of his first title shot. "GSP has been an amazing champion, and I’ve got to beat him – I want to beat him and that’s all that matters in this sport."
St. Pierre -- the second ranked pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world and top PPV draw, according to the UFC, has been an incredibly dominant champion with eight consecutive title defenses -- is aware of his accomplishments, but remained humble about the future.
"Everybody asks me about Anderson Silva’s loss … as much as I am happy for Chris Weidman, I am sad to see a champion fall like this," admitted St. Pierre when talking about a man he feels is still the best fighter in the world. "No matter how great you are and how good people tell you you’re doing, you are always one mistake away to lose everything. This keeps me humble, I keep training hard and remember what happened – nobody’s invincible."
The mutual respect between both athletes is at an all-time high – both welterweights get along, genuinely are fond of each other and there is no real animosity between the two. It is still early in fight preparations, but both men understand the task at hand, too.
"He’s a really great guy," Hendricks said of the champion. "We get along together whenever we have to be around – and that’s what this sport is about, it’s all business. I could go out and have a beer with him and hang out with him, but we do have a fight and that’s the only way that it goes."
The champion did not hesitate to return the praise to the man who will be looking to end his five-year championship streak.
"He’s a gentleman, a good role model. But, of course, my training camp hasn’t started for the fight and when the training camp starts we try to be more distant from each other. He lives in Texas, I live in Montreal, and we’re going to do our thing. It doesn’t mean if we’re nice to each other it’s going to be a better fight. The style match up will be a good clash. Even though we’re nice to each other, it doesn’t mean were not going to try and hit each other as hard as we can."
UFC 167 will mark the twentieth anniversary for the UFC and "Rush" is determined to show the world the reason his PPV numbers and immense popularity never disappoint.
"It’s an honor and a privileged – I‘m here to deliver a good fight," said St. Pierre.
St. Pierre was also asked how to respond to Hendricks’ allegations that he will make him exciting. The champion had a funny remark of his own to share with his challenger.
"I’m going to make him exciting, too," St. Pierre said with a smile. "It’s going to be a good fight. If I wouldn’t be exciting, people wouldn’t buy the fight. I don’t focus on that – I focus on the job that I need to do."
According to Hendricks, he thinks his challenger has never faced a fighter like him before. But, for "Bigg Rigg," the same goes for himself and he is eager to step up to the challenge.
"He’s got a great jab – never faced somebody like that. He’s going to try to take me down and I have faced somebody like that – Jon Fitch. It didn’t take very long, but I have trained for that. Also, it’s a five-round fight – I’ve never had that. So those are things weighing against me. I cant wait. I promise you there will be fireworks.
Wright also explained that multiple Canadian markets, including Halifax, Calgary and Quebec City, are all on the future radar.
"Were looking at Quebec City, it’s a big province," answered Wright. "We owe Calgary a fight; we want to go to Edmonton and we’re looking at Saskatchewan. One of the great things about Canada is that there are great cities, great fans and great opportunities to go coast to coast."
"We’re expecting a huge contingent of Canadians to head down to Las Vegas," declared Wright, when asked about the plans that the champion’s hometown fans could support him.
"My fans in Montreal will be there with me in spirit and I will bring them in my heart with me," admitted a gracious St. Pierre.
Another hot topic at the presser was Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing, and although it was a declaration in the past, both fighters reiterated their stances on the matter and are open to take part for this fight. For the champion, it is a allegation he has been accused of before and wants to prove the doubters wrong.
"I’m open to that – not just in our sport, but in every sport," confirmed St. Pierre. "I want to show people its possible to be a world champion without using drugs. I will be ready to do it. I’ve been accused in the past of taking drugs, but I always took is as a compliment because of my athletic ability."
"I’ll take it today, tomorrow, next week – whatever. I’m not on anything … you don’t look like me being on steroids," Hendricks bluntly said.
For more on UFC 167: "St. Pierre vs. Hendricks" be sure to check out our complete event archive of all the news that is (and isn't) fit to print right here.