Australian and international media were present at Etihad today to get the final word from the stars of UFC 193 before they complete their weight cut ahead of tomorrow’s weigh-ins. Fight News Australia was there to capture all the action.
Robert Whittaker was cool, calm and collected as always, not giving too much away. The NZ born fighter who trains out of Sydney arrived on Tuesday but hasn’t made time to enjoy the festivities, preferring to stay in his hotel room and remain focused on the job at hand. His opponent, Uriah Hall, is coming off a major win against Gegard Mousasi, and is a last minute replacement for Michael Bisping. Despite this being the biggest card the middleweight has fought on, he’s keeping it real.
“Every fight is a platform for me to go to the next level and display my skills. I’m going to climb through the ranks, through all my opponents. This will be no different.”
And his thoughts on Mark Hunt’s rematch with Antonio “Big Foot” Silva?
“Mark Hunt is going to take his head off, he always comes to fight, he wants it.”
Valerie Leternou, undoubtedly the biggest underdog of the weekend, has no qualms about facing the champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
“We both have a lot of determination, we will see who has the most in this fight. I believe I have more skills than Joanna, I have a more complete game than Joanna. She’s really, really good at what she does but I feel like I have more tools than her and I’m going to use everything in this fight.”
Despite being one of the bigger strawweights on the roster, Leternou said that her weight cut has gone really well in the lead up to UFC 193.
“My weight cut is going well. I’m a few pounds under where I have been before previous fights, so I’m going home after this to finish the cut. It’s different this time around because I’ll be doing the weigh-in in the morning, something I’m not used to, but I prefer it. So far it’s going well.”
Leternou also had the pleasure of spending time with Mark Hunt at a local kickboxing competition last week, getting in some down time before fight week media activities ramped up.
“It was great. It took me back to my kickboxing years; I started when I was 15, my first fight was at 16. The music, the crowd, there was a smile on my face. I love that, it’s why I started competing.”
The main event challenger, Holly Holm, no doubt put a lot of fans in her corner after the open workouts yesterday, the American clearly enjoying the moment.
“Yesterday at the open workouts, I just felt like it was a great opportunity to just go out there and have fun. I don’t look at it as a time where I am under the microscope, that I am being tested or anything like that, I’m just having a good time. It’s great for the fans.”
“I was super excited for the turn out that we had. The fans were excited so that always makes it fun, it’s no fun if there’s just crickets out in the crowd.”
But today, it’s back to business, and whilst Holm can appreciate the enormity of the event, she wants to be more than just Rousey’s dancing partner.
“I’ll love this part of history, as long as it’s a victory. I don’t want to just be apart of it.”
“I do feel like I am better prepared (than the women before her), because she’s shown that nobody has been prepared enough. She’s run through them, I have to feel that I am going to be more prepared for it than them.”
Whilst nerves can be a byproduct of fighting in front of not only thousands of people live, at Eithad, but millions across the globe on PPV, Holm understands it’s all apart of the process.
“Hard work gives me confidence, don’t get me wrong there are times when I’m by myself and I’m like wow it’s fight week and you need to be careful of this or that, and really thinking about the fight and the different positions you can be in; bad and good. There’s a lot of nerves that come with it but I really just try to embrace it and take it all in. If I wasn’t nervous, it’d be the day I didn’t care and I should probably retire. The nerves are there but I’m comfortable with them.”
The strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, was her usual charming self. The polish fighter who is pint sized in person, but a beast in the cage, has built a loyal following of fans in the MMA community and beyond. But she isn’t stopping there.
“I want to be a legend. I want people to remember me, everywhere not just in my country. I’ve done a great job for this sport and for female MMA and for all of the fighters.”
Whilst she has much respect for her opponent, Valerie Letourneau, the champ knows in her heart this is just another person in the way of fulfilling her legacy.
“I think she deserves to fight for this title, she’s a very tough opponent. She’s got a lot of experience, she’s got the KO power, you could see it in her fights but I am too fast for all of them. I am the best champion, I am on a different level, that is all.”
Joanna plans on taking a break after UFC 193, much like Ronda Rousey, and isn’t opposed to fighting on the UFC 200 card.
“This year has been crazy, it’s my third title fight, I need a vacation…I’d like to fight on UFC 200 but I don’t know when the UFC is going to call me.”
And finally, her thoughts on Claudia Gadelha being the next contender.
“I don’t think so, she’s only had one fight after our fight, so she should get some more fights before she becomes a challenger. She should just stand in the line and wait for her turn with the champion.”
Ronda Rousey, Antonio Silva and Mark Hunt were also present at the media day, alongside UFC President, Dana White.
UFC 193 takes place at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on 15th November 2015. Tickets are available at TicketMaster.