TORONTO- With excitement already at a fever pitch in Toronto for the biggest event in Ultimate Fighting Championship’s history on Saturday, the opening press conference for UFC 129 just continued the promotion for what could be one of the best main events ever.
UFC president Dana White kicked off Wednesday’s affair by saying that his company had finally arrived in Ontario and that he was personally ‘pumped’ for the card. Director of Canadian Operations Tom Wright said that a lot of prep work went into prepared the Rogers Centre to host the 55,000 in attendance and that “good things happen when you do your homework.” For fans still hoping to access the sold-out event, Wright inferred that some more bleacher seats will be released prior to Saturday’s fight time.
Clearly, the biggest question on the minds of both the fans and reporters alike was whether Canadian St-Pierre could hold onto his welterweight belt against the toughest challenger he has faced in Jake Shields. White said that regardless of the Saturday’s outcome, Shields’ profile would increase because of his opponent.
“A lot of people didn’t know Jake Shields before this fight,” White said. “[It’s] a very dangerous fight for GSP.”
While Shields acknowledged that he is an underdog despite one of the most impressive MMA records around, he said that he didn’t have a problem with it but it will be a tough test against St-Pierre who hasn’t lost a round in his last 30 and has also added gymnastics to his training routine.
“Nobody can reproduce the movement of the gymnastics guys,” GSP said, citing that it is the best form of pure athleticism around.
The Quebec native couldn’t avoid questions about the pressure of fighting not only in front of the largest and partisan UFC crowd ever but said that it also served to fuel his motivation.
“In terms of pressure, I have had this much pressure… that’s when I perform the best,” he said.
One of the most interesting points to note about Saturday’s card is how much it differs from many fights of the past in terms of the respect level that each fighter has for his opponent, not only in the main event but all the way down the list. Jose Aldo praised Mark Hominick and vice-versa. Randy Couture spoke highly of Lyoto Machida and vice-versa. The same was obviously illustrated by the event’s headliners.
“The days are over when people have to hate each other,” White said while also saying he has never coached any of his fighters to intentionally hype a match.
Thursday’s events include an open workout session and a downtown takeover which will be interesting to see given the heavy rain expected in the city today.
Tags: Dana White, Georges St. Pierre, Jake Shields, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC 129