Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) today (Dec. 10) held a media conference call with a good portion of its main card participants to promote their upcoming pay-per-view event from the city of Memphis, Tennessee, for their live mixed martial arts extravaganza on December 12.
"Penn vs. Sanchez" will feature a main event between lightweight division champion, BJ "The Prodigy" Penn, defending his title against number one division contender, Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez, filling in the hole left by "Sugar" Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson after "Rampage" went Hollywood.
In the co-featured fight of the night, former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir will "begin his quest for a third title" when he takes on the hard-hitting striker Cheick Kongo.
Here is a brief recap and highlights of noteworthy items coming out of today's call, featuring all four of the aforementioned fighters:
--A brief recap of the efforts to legislate mixed martial arts is discussed by the brass from the FedEx Forum. BJ Penn is seen yawning in the background while Diego Sanchez fidgets in his seat.
--The Tennessee athletic commissioner comes out and says he feels like Diego Sanchez and breaks into a "YES!" chant. "Nightmare" is not amused. Sanchez stares into the camera without blinking. A "Heaven's Gate" reference is inevitable.
--UFC President Dana White gives the requisite roll call introducing BJ Penn, Diego Sanchez, Frank Mir and Cheick Kongo.
--Kongo gets called to the lectern to a Doppler effect of limp applause. He says "Thanks" like Hightower when he got his medal at the end of Police Academy.
--Frank Mir gets his turn on the mic and is surprisingly soft-spoken. He gives a few props and takes his seat.
--Dana's back and he pimps the evolution of BJ Penn. He also states that Diego Sanchez is never in a boring fight, conveniently forgetting his UFC 69 snoozer against Josh Koscheck.
--Diego says he's the official "Duckmaster." (Peabody Duck March) He also says he's prepared for Saturday.
--BJ gets called up to a "Whooo" from the background. Is "The Nature Boy" in the house? He warns Sanchez that he's not fighting Florian or Stevenson and he will see "The Prodigy" inside the cage.
Q: BJ, did stress cause you to change?
Penn: Opportunities are few and far between, wanted to make the best of them and enjoy them, wants to be the best fighter he can be, wasn't stress that prompted a change.
Q: Cheick and Frank, please explain the bad blood:
Mir: I talk a lot and Kongo didn't like hearing it. Frank says not personal but he ruffles feathers.
Kongo: He answers and I can't understand him.Not trying to be a smartass but his accent and the distance of the mic was not helping. Something about Mir being a former champ but not letting him get treated like shit. People whistle and clap.
Q: BJ and Diego? How was the duck march?
Penn: Quiet, but we are professional so it wasn't bad. Ducks were cute.
Q: BJ, are you excited to face the style of Sanchez?
Penn: It's always good to fight a good fighter but he's no different than anyone else, just another fight.
Q: Diego, was dropping to 155-pounds the right move now that you're here?
Sanchez: It brought a new discipline to my career and a better Diego to the cage. It was a faster road to the title.
Q: Dana, what changes do you see in Mir?
White: Post-motorcycle career is different than pre-motorcycle career. Frank hates Brock and likes to talk. Kongo didn't want to hear what he had to say.
Q: BJ, talk about your training camp.
Penn: We went to California eight weeks out with the same crew and everything went great.
Q: Diego, do you have a cardio advantage?
Sanchez: Yes, I have the best conditioning in the business after years of building up to it.
Q: Diego, BJ called you weird.
Sanchez: He's right. I am what I am, that's all that I am. I don't care what people think. Be yourself and have fun. Starts screaming YES! and it gets a little uncomfortable.
Q: Diego, do you regret not taking the drop to 155-pounds sooner?
Sanchez: I trust in the Lord, my time is my time, when it happens it happens and here I am at the perfect time. Everything in my career was in preparation for this.
Q: BJ, how did you react to the announcement of this fight?
Penn: The legacy of BJ Penn means fighting the best and defending the title against whoever is the most dangerous and the biggest draw at the time.
Q: Frank, will your head games backfire?
Mir: I don't do anything by chance. It won't backfire. There is no secret about how this fight will play out. I want to get the fight to the ground. My focus is getting back into title contention.
Q: Dana, what are the goals of 2010?
White: We're going to Australia, Abu Dhabi, Boston and a lot of markets we've never been both here and abroad including New York.
Q: BJ, rumor has it you're sick. Are you not feeling well?
Penn: Not sure where that rumor came from but I'm fine and wouldn't tell you if I wasn't.
Q: Dana, is Rampage coming back?
White: Rampage should be upset he's not fighting in his home town. He's still with us and will fight in the next few months. I'm not mad anymore. I'm over it.
Q: Dana, who will be next in line for the 155-pound title?
White: That depends on who wins.
Q: Dana, when will you bring MMA to Hawaii?
White: We had that tax issue but it's resolved. Hawaii is soon, maybe next year. (One person claps.)
Tequila Cazadores award goes to Frank Mir for his work with children's charities. He proceeds to drop the plaque and it breaks. Dana promises him a new one.
They break for photo ops. Very intense staredown between Penn and Sanchez.
That's a wrap.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Saturday, Dec. 12), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view from the FedEx Forum. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8 p.m. ET with the preliminary bouts.
It’s going to be a fun night of fights so don’t miss it. And remember to check us out for all the pre, during and post-fight UFC 107 coverage you can handle.