Photos: Esther Lin/Strikeforce
JAKE SHIELDS, DAN HENDERSON, ‘KING MO’,
GEGARD MOUSASI, GILBERT MELENDEZ, SHINYA AOKI:
THURSDAY’S FINAL PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
STRIKEFORCE World Championship Tripleheader This Saturday, April 17,
On The CBS Television Network At Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 15, 2010) – The six fighters who will appear on the STRIKEFORCE World Championship Tripleheader on The CBS Television Network this Saturday, April 17 (9 p.m. ET/PT) – five of which are ranked among the top five in their respective weight classes – participated in the final press conference Thursday here at Bridgestone Arena.
In the main event Saturday at Bridgestone, Jake Shields (24-4-1), of San Francisco, Calif., will risk his STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight belt against one of the most decorated fighters in MMA history, Dan Henderson (25-7), of Temecula, Calif. Shields has won 13 in-a-row and is unbeaten since December 2004. Henderson will be making his first start since he left the UFC to join STRIKEFORCE.
The talented Gegard Mousasi (27-2-1), of Armenia, will put a 15-fight winning streak and his STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight crown on the line against one of the most confident, fastest-rising fighters in the world, King Mo (6-0), of Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Gilbert Melendez (17-2), of San Francisco, will make his first defense since regaining the STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight crown against DREAM belt-holder and Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki (23-4), who has won three straight and six of his last seven.
Tickets are on sale at the Bridgestone Arena ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’S official website (www.strikeforce.com).
What the fighters had to say on Thursday:
STRIKEFORCE WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION JAKE SHIELDS
“I am very excited and confident. Henderson is obviously a very big name, but this is a great opportunity for me. I’ve had a lot of big fights but this is the biggest. It will not be an easy fight, for sure. This is going to be an all-out war.
“I may feel a little slighted the way this has played out because I put a lot into becoming champion, but I certainly understand why and I’m fine with it. Being the underdog doesn’t bother me; it only gives me added motivation.
“I’m ready to fight. Let’s see if I can surprise him. I’m looking forward to seeing how he reacts when I hit him and he goes down.’’
LEGENDARY DAN HENDERSON
“A huge part of why I signed with STRIKEFORCE was to be on CBS. Having fights on network television helps better the sport and it introduces people to it so they can fall in love with it.
“I’m all ready to go. This is going to be exciting for the fans.
“Jake is very good at certain things. I’ll be trying to avoid those kinds of situations just like he’ll be trying to avoid what I am good at.’’
STRIKEFORCE WORLD LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION GEGARD MOUSASI
“I don’t like King Mo as a person. He is arrogant and cocky. I respect him a fighter like I would any fighter who enters the cage, but I’ve never faced anyone who talks as much as he does. At the beginning, I would take what he said as personal, but not anymore.
“Before the fight, I try to be professional. I’ll do my talking in the cage and afterward.
“He’s a good, strong, athletic fighter with a good wrestling base. But I am confident I will win.’’
UNDEFEATED CHALLENGER “KING MO”
‘He’s the one who is arrogant and cocky. I’m just me and trying to have some fun.
“I am a little anxious but totally prepared and not worried. Fighting five rounds, if it goes that long, will not be a problem. There is absolutely no pressure.
“I’m confident and really looking forward to Saturday. After our fight, the city of Nashville is going to be known as Mo-Town.’’
STRIKEFORCE WORLD LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION GILBERT “El NINO” MELENDEZ
“I am ready for this fight, ready to defend the STRIKEFORCE title, thrilled to be on CBS and representing the United States, and expecting this to be my toughest fight.
“Aoki is No. 2 in the world for good reason. He does a lot of crazy stuff in the ring. I study a lot of tapes and it took me a long time to figure him out, but I’ve got him down now.
“The key for me, like always, is calm and patience. This will be a great fight on a great night. This is a show all fans will be watching.’’
DREAM CHAMPION AND CHALLENGER SHINYA AOKI
“The timing is right that we are finally fighting. I am here and totally just focused on this fight. I feel Melendez is a nice guy.’’
STRIKEFORCE (www.strikeforce.com) is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, STRIKEFORCE, sanctioned by ISKA, has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts (MMA) series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of STRIKEFORCE, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose.