Photos: Esther Lin/STRIKEFORCE
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The eight fighters who will compete in televised fights during a STRIKEFORCE World Championship Doubleheader this Saturday, March 5, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) participated in a final press conference Thursday at Nationwide Arena.
The event, STRIKEFORCE’s first in the state of Ohio, will take place in conjunction with The Arnold Sports Festival, the nation’s largest health and fitness exposition founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Tickets are on sale at the Nationwide Arena ticket office, online at Ticketmaster.com and Strikeforce.com and Ticketmaster by phone (800) 745-3000. The first non-televised, undercard fight starts at 7:30 p.m. ET. Doors will open at 7 o’clock.
In Saturday’s main event, Dan Henderson (26-8), of Temecula, Calif., will challenge defending belt-holder Rafael “Feijao’’ Cavalcante (10-2) of Brazil for the STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Championship. In a second world title fight, Marloes Coenen (18-4) of the Netherlands will risk her lightweight (135 pounds) title for a first time when she faces Liz Carmouche (6-0) of San Diego, Calif.
Other televised fights: American military hero Tim Kennedy (12-3) of Austin, Texas, faces Melvin “No Mercy’’ Manhoef (24-8-1) of Amsterdam, Holland, in an important middleweight (185 pounds) match and undefeated Billy Evangelista (11-0) of Fresno, Calif., will take on Jorge Masvidal (20-6) of Miami, Fla., in a lightweight (155 pounds) encounter.
What the fighters had to say Thursday:
“I prepare for the next fight and I train for that opponent. I’m thinking about Dan Henderson and not thinking about the championship.
“I don’t care that no one has successfully defended the (light heavyweight) title. I care about preparation, training and getting inside the cage to fight.
“I always train like a family. Antonio Rodrigo is like my mentor. He helped me a lot. He’s always there with me. My coaches and I have made a strategy for this fight.
“With a big challenge you train more and more. Henderson is a big challenge and that is what makes this sport exciting.”
“One of the benefits of fighting at 205 (pounds) is I get to enjoy my food. One of the drawbacks is I have to fight guys his (Feijao’s) size.
“I don’t feel any added pressure fighting for the title. Every fight for the last few years has been pretty big so I don’t feel any added pressure fighting for the title.
“He’s (Feijao is) a different fighter than Anderson Silva so it doesn’t matter that they train together. And I think I’ve improved a lot since I fought Anderson.
“A lot of the techniques are similar in MMA. You just have to look at your opponent and their technique and tweak your game plan a little bit.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t be here if winning a world title wasn’t one of my goals. But the challenge of fighting someone like Feijao is exciting. He’s big, he’s tough and he’s strong. I would definitely enjoy having the belt but the reason I fight is for the challenge.”
“I’m always prepared and ready to go. This will be a very exciting fight. Liz will come in very determined because of the opportunity she’s getting, but this is an important fight for me, too.
“I need to stay humble because when you start to get cocky is when you’ll lose. I’m comfortable, my weight is good. I can fight at 135 and 145, but I feel a bit stronger at 135 pounds.’’
“I’m absolutely grateful and excited for this chance. I look forward to the challenge. I’m all about challenges.
“This is going to be a fierce, non-stop back-and-forth fight that I expect will go five full rounds.
“We train for five round fights, so stamina will not be a problem. I can’t wait to fight Marloes on Saturday.’’
“I’m just excited to be fighting a guy that comes to fight. Manhoef is exciting and comes to win. It is exactly the recipe for a good fight and that’s what I want on Saturday.
“I expect a fast-paced, explosive fight. I don’t see it going the distance.’’
“All fights are important and every time I step into the cage I’m confident I will win. I’m not treating this fight any differently, but it would be good to get a win to reestablish myself.
“I’m not making any excuses, but I know I had (Robbie) Lawler but I made a mistake and it cost me the fight. I went in for the kill and dropped my hands and he caught me.
“Striking is definitely my strong point, but I’m prepared to go anywhere the fight goes on Saturday. The key is for me to be aggressive and fight my fight and not force it.
“Kennedy is a very good, determined fighter. This is going to be an all-action fight.’’
“I’m looking forward to dropping back down to my natural weight of 155 pounds. My last fight was my first in nearly a year and the first since my injury. I fought a guy stronger and bigger than me and in a totally different weight class. Performance-wise, I expect to be much better on Saturday.
“I don’t watch tapes of opponents so I don’t know much about Masvidal other than he’ll have a height advantage. I’m confident that I can win what will be a very hard fight and take the next step up. A win gets me closer to the STRIKEFORCE belt – the ultimate goal is for me to fight for the STRIKEFORCE title.”
“I’m happy to be fighting for STRIKEFORCE again. I’m looking forward to fighting on SHOWTIME.
“I had a great camp and I’m in great shape. I’m very confident.’’