Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held a special media conference call today (Aug. 20, 2013) in advance of its UFC o164: "Henderson vs Pettis 2" event, which will take place next weekend (Aug. 31) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Henderson is the current UFC Lightweight champion, winning the title against Frankie Edgar last year and most recently defending it for the third time against debuting Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. Nothing has come easy for Henderson, as his title fights have almost always been razor close decision, but he's proven himself time and time again against the best in the world.
Pettis could be his stiffest test to date, if only because he defeated Henderson in 2010 to capture the WEC lightweight title, landing the infamous "Showtime Kick" which still resonates throughout the MMA community to this day. The Milwaukee native has gone 3-1 in his UFC stint thus far, most recently scoring brutal knockouts against Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone.
Mir and Barnett are two of the best heavyweight grapplers around. Both men are former UFC champions, although Barnett won the title 11 years ago and was later stripped of the belt after a positive test for steroids. This will be his first bout back with the promotion after over a decade fighting in Japan, Affliciton, Strikeforce and more. Mir was also a two-time heavyweight champion, but has fallen on hard times of late, losing two straight fights to Junior dos Santos and Daniel Cormier.
Complete UFC 164 conference call replays and highlights are posted below:
Anthony Pettis: When I got word of T.J. Grant's injury, it surprised me. That doesn't happen much in title fights, people backing out with injuries in back-to-back months. It was very surprising to me and the way the fight lined up for me was crazy. With my knee for the Aldo fight and and T.J. Grant getting injured allowing me to fight Henderson, I'm sure a lot of conspiracy theories were popping up but my injuries were legit and as far as I know T.J. Grant's injuries were legit.
Benson Henderson: On my part, there's always gonna be conspiracy theories with everything. It is what it is. A lot of crazy certain things behind a lot of that stuff but it is what it is. Once I found out the fight was going to happen, I was excited for it. I've been waiting for it for a while but it's fine by me.
Anthony Pettis: Fans don't see the training that goes into these fights. Injuries happen. They're part of the game. When it happens like that, I've got to pull out of a 145 pound title fight and get a fight at 155. That doesn't happen much. I'm sure the fans have their opinion on what happened.
Benson Henderson: It's not an overactive imagination or anything like that but there's armchair quarterback's on Monday morning for every football team. Everyone's an armchair quarterback for MMA. That's good though, good for the sport. It keeps people talking about it, but yeah, sometimes the reasoning and the imaginations they can get a bit out there yeah.
Benson Henderson: I don't really think of myself in that light. I don't think of myself as a Chuck Liddell or Matt Hughes or any one of those guys. It's kind of weird to consider that. I don't put myself in the shoes or any of those greats. That's not my job, that's the media's job, the fan's job, call it like it is. My job is to go out there and beat people up, that's it.
Anthony Pettis: I wouldn't say it's a rivalry or anything like that. He's the champ and I want that belt. That's all it is. Nothing personal against him. He's a cool guy, great champion, great fighter, he just has the belt and whoever has the belt is who I want to fight. The last time we fought in his hometown, now we're in my hometown. I've had my work cut out for me.
Josh Barnett: Negotiations were like anything else. One person says they'll give you five bucks, the other says 10, a lot of papers get pushed around, pencils in the room. You just go to the business table and do what you've got to do. It's been so long, all I know is how to punch stuff, sweat and scream in pain from excessive workouts. That's all I know how to do is suffer and be murderous. All I do is train now. Negotiations are a thing of the past.
Josh Barnett: (on relationship with Dana White) I haven't seen him much. He's been traveling a lot. We'll have an opportunity to hang out, break bread, watch a movie and maybe get a couple's massage.
Josh Barnett: The winner, if they want to, they get to brag all they want if that's the route they want to take. When it comes to the heavyweight divison, you don't know how it'll turn out until the dust is settled. As far as Zuffa heavyweights, I'm the oldest Zuffa anything. I'm pre-Zuffa. That's not even any consideration. I'm the longest running in this sport period.
Frank Mir: Obviously we're all fighting to eventually become champion again. Josh was champ when I got into the UFC so we look at each other a bit differently. I look at it as bragging rights to have a victory over someone like Josh, with where he was when I come in and and what hes accomplished in his career.
Josh Barnett: A fighter's mindset is always ultimate and absolute unflinching belief in oneself. People would have been interested to watch the fight back then just as much as they like watching the fight right now.
Frank Mir: I think if we would have fought back then, I'd have to give the fight to Josh. I wasn't as mentally strong back then. Mine's developed over the years. It's something you work on it. Maybe if the first couple submission attempts would have failed for me, I'd have been in a lot of trouble if we fought in 2002.
Benson Henderson: It's the same. Obviously it's a little bigger because I've only lost once in the last seven years and it was to Anthony. Obviously you want to get that loss back, but that's not really possible. If you lose, you lose. It is what it is. It will be nice to square off with him again and get my hands on him for sure, but it's just another title fight. There's always gonna be a first time for something, first pay-per-view, first main event, first main card, first time in the UFC. You have to treat each fight like it's the most important of your career.
Benson Henderson: It's something you've got to continuously work on. It's all just stuff every day you try to get better. Always try to get 1 percent better. Improve your takedowns, your kicks, everything. I've had seven or six fights since then. I'm gonna try to do the same thing from those fights as this fight.
Josh Barnett: The first time around I went all the way to the top and won the heavyweight championship of the world. I don't expect any different other than to win a lot more money and fandom and stardom out of this whole thing because of the explosion of MMA as a whole. Probably a lot more twitter followers would be my number one.
Frank Mir: I think I've stopped people before that had never tapped, never been stopped via submission. You have to have knowledge of what people are capable of, but at the same time you can't let it nullify your offense. You can't let respect cause apprehension and make you hesitate. Maybe I'll put four, five, six attempts chained together and obviously I don't see Josh falling victim to the first submission attempt I jump on but that doesn't mean I won't attempt it anyways.
Benson Henderson: Man that's the way life goes sometimes. One small moment, what's that MMA song, one moment however it goes. You can have weeks and weeks and months and years for one moment. For me, the whole fight was pretty close, on all the judges' scorecard we were tied up 2-2 going into the fifth round and Anthony let it all out, landing a pretty cool kick and ever since, I've been working to redeem myself. For me, winning the belt, beating up the next guy and the guy after that, that for me, working past that one moment in my life to make other great spectacular moments like in Tokyo, in Toronto, in San Jose, making other moments for me is what helps me.
Anthony Pettis: It's just another fight. It doesn't matter where it's at. This is everything I wanted. I've been watiing for a title shot for so long. It just so happens to be in my hometown. Come August 31st, I'll be the best Anthony Pettis there is.
Frank Mir: I'm trying to put on great fights, but an outcome of my drive is to work back towards the title. I don't see a situation where it's no longer in my grasp. Being only 34 years of age, I don't see it as a secret. I don't want to just be another fight on the card.
Anthony Pettis: That was a very close fight. Going into the fifth round, it was tied up 2-2. I didn't win the fight on one kick, I put the work in the other four rounds to get myself in that position. It happened, but just because I landed that kick I'm not the champ. I've got a lot to work for.
Josh Barnett: I fought when there was no money. Most of the time you didn't wear gloves. We were under attack from all angles and a lot of the providers cut off our pay-per-views. There wasn't much money or fame, you just did it for a neverending desire to bathe in blood. Today there's a broader acceptance from the mainstream public. As far as making a living, it's a far better opportunity than when I started. I think a lot of guys fight not for the reasons we used to fight for. They fight to make themselves famous and get money. They fight for glory while we fought to bathe in blood and for honor. There's still great, true fighters coming out of this, but these guys aren't as tough as they used to be. They're better athletes but they don't have that grit.
Frank Mir: I didn't brag to anybody that I signed my initial UFC contract. If I tried to describe it a few times, no one had a clue what they were talking about. If I told a girl I fought for a living, it was the quickest way to end a date. Now, it's the cool thing to fight in the Octagon. It wasn't like that back in the day.
Frank Mir: I have more confidence in the training I have. Just because you do it in training doesn't mean you can do it when the lights are on. Cormier isn't much of a finisher, but it allowed me to stay in there long enough to realize my gas tank was pretty good. I had confidence in the third round, but I wish I had it going into the fight.
Benson Henderson: I've never once thought about it as far as being linked together forever. it sounds kind of odd. Anthony's a tough fighter, explosive, does some crazy stuff. I'm sure he'll be around for a long time. I plan on being around as champ for a long time. If that's the way it plays out, that's the way it plays out.
Anthony Pettis: We're linked together because we came from WEC. Everyone said WEC guys weren't on the same level as UFC guys but we proved them wrong. After this fight, someone's gonna win and someone's gonna lose and I think we'll both go on our separate ways in our careers.