Photos: Jason Davis/For STRIKEFORCE
NASHVILLE (Jan. 5, 2011) – Five of the fighters who will appear on Friday’s STRIKEFORCE Challengers Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight card presented by Rockstar Energy Drink at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., during a Free Preview Weekend on SHOWTIME® (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) participated in an open media workout Wednesday.
In a highly anticipated showdown between top welterweight (170 pounds) rising stars, undefeated Tyron Woodley (7-0) will take on hard-hitting Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine (10-2) in the main event.
Other televised fights: U.S. Olympic wrestler and undefeated heavyweight Daniel Cormier (6-0) meets Devin Cole (18-8-1), former University of Tennessee linebacker Ovince Saint Preux (9-4) will be opposed by “Abongo’’ Humphrey (7-2) at light heavyweight (205 pounds), Julia “The Jewel’’ Budd (1-0) takes on Amanda “Lioness Of The Ring’’ Nunes (5-1) in a women’s middleweight (145 pounds) match and undefeated light heavyweight and four-time U.S. National Judo Champ and 2004 U.S. Judo Olympian, Dr. Rhadi Ferguson (2-0), will throw down with John Richard (3-1) in a light heavyweight battle.
Tickets for the STRIKEFORCE Challengers event are on sale at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000 including Kroger and FYE, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
The first non-televised, undercard fight will begin at 7:30 CT. Doors will open at 7.
What they said Wednesday:
(On what he knows about his opponent)
“He’s well known for being a great kickboxer so my job is to neutralize what he does best while I do what I do best to get the victory. He baits guys in well and defends takedowns well so I need to set up my takedowns well with strikes. If I don’t get the takedown, I can’t get frustrated. I have to come back up swinging.
“A lot of guys he’s fought, he’s defended the takedown once and his opponents haven’t tried a second or third takedown on him. The guys that have, have taken him down. So, my plan is not to expect to pop him one time with a good penetration shot and get him off his feet, but to continue to work and grind. That’s what we do best.”
(On whether or not staying undefeated is on his mind)
“I don’t even worry about that. Every fight is the most important. The fights that come after this, will come after, but winning this fight in dominant fashion is key. I don’t worry about staying undefeated. I worry about winning this fight.”
(On his best memories from wrestling)
“Camaraderie with the team. The family atmosphere. Holding each other up and keeping each other going. It’s a lot tougher than MMA — not having full control of your training, the seven-month season, competing 50 times a year. It was a lot for me. (In MMA), you have more control over your training. I can take a day off if I feel sore and come back the next day. The other training we do — boxing and Muay Thai – is fun.”
(On his opponent)
“I know that he’s a wrestler and a strong guy with a lot of experience. It’s going to be my toughest fight to date, for sure. I think I’ve prepared well and trained hard so I feel confident.”
(On whether or not he feels pressure to remain undefeated)
“I don’t feel pressure to stay undefeated. I’ve handled pressure at the highest level in wrestling. I accept the responsibility that comes with all the wins. Expectation is part of it so you deal with it.”
(On whether or not he thinks Olympians will continue to cross over to MMA)
“For younger athletes, I think the lure of MMA is going to take them away before they get to the Olympics. Guys that want to chase the money or NCAA champions — guys who had the potential to be in the Olympics. A few of them will cut their careers short in order to pursue a career where they can make money.”
OVINCE SAINT PREUX
(On working with his new trainer)
“Since I’ve been with Nate “The Great” Hoffmeister, I’ve gotten stronger, faster. I’m doing things in the gym that I can’t believe and that I had never been able to do before.”
(On his opponent)
“He’s a short, stocky guy so I’ll have some problems getting under him. I know that he punches and kicks a lot and he’s got good stand up. He’s fought some pretty tough guys like Mike Kyle and Brett Rogers. It’s one of those things where I’m just happy to be here and I’m going to put on a good show.’’
(On why he thinks MMA has sustained increased popularity)
“It’s like with football — people like seeing hits — or boxing where people like seeing knockouts. In MMA, you never know what’s going to happen. Someone can be winning a fight and, the next thing you know, they get knocked out with a punch, a headkick, or ground and pound. People like seeing that.”
DR. RHADI FERGUSON
“Twelve months ago while watching MMA on TV I told my wife that I wanted to sign with a major promotion and that’s what has happened. So, yes, I’m very excited about fighting on SHOWTIME and fighting for STRIKEFORCE.
“The change in opponents doesn’t mean much. It’s what you do the night of the fight, the changes you make and don’t make, that count. You can only fight who shows up the night of the fight.
“I’ve trained MMA fighters and participated in MMA seminars since 2005. But I decided that night watching MMA on TV that I wanted to fight. There are certain times at my age when you can say a lot of things that you want to do, but can’t. I could say I want to play in the NFL, but that could never happen.
“MMA was different. I was confident I could do this, but didn’t want to wait until it was too late. I can’t look back and say I regret not playing in the NFL, but I could look back and regret not giving MMA a go.
“MMA is a phenomenal sport. It is like a chess match. I like that aspect. For me, it is more mental than physical and it’s always been like that.’’
“I’m really excited about fighting for STRIKEFORCE on SHOWTIME and looking forward to showcasing my skills to the fans and the world and representing my team (Gibson MMA in British Columbia) the best that I can.
“All fighters at this level are tough, and Nunes is no different. But she’s just another person who has to fall.
“Fighting on SHOWTIME and being part of STRIKEFORCE has really increased my visibility. I was well known in kickboxing, but that was a much smaller world than this.
“I understand it is all on me to continue to work hard and live up to expectations.’’