Lost in the madness of what went down Thursday at “UFC on Versus 3” was Strikeforce’s pre-fight press conference inside the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. All eight athletes competing in the televised portion of Saturday’s Showtime broadcast hit the podium to promote this weekend’s card.
Light heavyweight champ Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante defends his crown against Dan Henderson in the night’s featured contest, while Marloes Coenen puts her 135-pound belt on the line against Liz Carmouche in the card’s co-main event.
Here’s some of what the card’s cast of characters had to say during Thursday’s pow-wow:
RAFAEL “FEIJAO” CAVALCANTE:
“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.’’