by Lee Whitehead, MMAWeekly.com
UFC 89: Bisping vs Leben / Press Conference
The press conference for UFC 89 had a very relaxed feel to it with minimal tension between the fighters and an air of calm that belies the nature of what the main protagonists will get up to on Saturday night. UFC U.K. president Marshall Zelaznik addressed the accumulated press with a mixture of pride and excitement ahead of Saturday’s event.
“This is the most Euro heavy fight card the UFC has ever put on and it really shows the commitment to the market expansion plans we have” he stated, before adding that the plans aren’t limited solely to England and that “Tickets go on sale tomorrow at the fight club for the January 17 event in Dublin”.
True to word previous statements on Euro expansion, Zelaznik added that in 2009, the promotion has strong chances of touching down in Italy, Germany and possibly Finland, as the Nordic country emerges as a front runner to host an event.
The showdown between tough Liverpudlian Paul Kelly and “The Irish Hand Grenande” Marcus Davis is as good a place as any to start with the respectful exchanges. “Kelly looks younger and stronger, but we will have to see… I have studied some tapes on him from my connections here in the U.K. and I am definitely prepared to put on a good show” commented Davis.
Kelly appeared content to let his fighting do the talking on Saturday and simply stated that “I am looking forward to another fight of the night” – and presumably the bonus it entails.
A very classy Brandon Vera addressed the crowd with nothing but respect for his opponent Keith Jardine, acknowledging the dangers of his opponent’s fighting style and also the prospect of a win being one step forward for the victor and three steps back for his opponent. “Keith is a very tough guy… and I am sure that we will find out a lot about each other during our fight until one of us get’s knocked out”.
Keith Jardine said the fight with Vera was something he couldn’t turn down and relished the opportunity “to take a bonus or two away from Marcus Davis” adding that styles make fights and that the encounter with Vera was a classic case of “Beauty versus the Beast”.
The main event fighters Chris Leben and Michael Bisping- who exchanged little in the way of glances up until the face-off at the end. Leben appeared to be calm and relaxed and gave a slight hint that he may not be solely banging with the Brit by commenting, “I don’t know if I will knock him out or submit him… but it will be an exciting fight”.
Bisping by contrast painted a picture of it being another day in the office. “I don’t have to fire myself up for this fight, winning fights provides me with the means to have the lifestyle I want for my family”.
Michael Bisping vs Chris Leben
Keith Jardine vs Brandon Vera
Thierry Rameau Sokoudjou vs Luiz Cane
Paul Taylor vs Chris Lytle
Paul Kelly vs Marcus Davis
Dan Hardy vs Akihiro Gono
Shane Carwin vs Neil Wain
Jess Liaudin vs David Beilkheden
Sam Stout vs Terry Etim
David Baron vs Jim Miller
Per Eklund vs Samy Schiavo