Operator: Good day everyone and welcome to the UFC 228 Conference Call. Todays’ call is being recorded and at this time, I would like to turn the conference over to UFC Senior Director, Dave Lockett. Please go ahead.
Dave Lockett: Yes, welcome, everyone, to the UFC 228 Conference Call. UFC 228 takes place next Saturday, September 8 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. On the call with us today, we will have the four fighters competing in two title bouts taking place at UFC 228. We’ll start off the call with UFC Flyweight Champion, Women’s Flyweight Champion Nicco Montano and number one UFC Women’s Flyweight Contender, Valentina Shevchenko. Thirty minutes from now, we will be joined by UFC Welterweight Champion, Tyron Woodley and the number two UFC Welterweight contender, Darren Till. Now I’m going to turn things back over to the conference center for questions for Nicco and Valentina.
Operator: Certainly and again, that’s Star 1 if you would like to signal for a question at this time. Star 1 for any questions. Please make sure that your mute function has been disengaged to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Our first call will come from Rodney James Edgar with MMASoldier.net.
Rodney James Edgar: Hey, Nicco. The first question is the most obvious one to me. Looking at the odds that were just published recently, the odds that I looked currently today have you as a pretty heavy underdog, as a champion. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen that before. Does that make you feel any kind of way?
Nicco Montano: No.
Rodney James Edgar: No? Okay.
Nicco Montano: No.
Rodney James Edgar: And so in regards to your opponent, maybe, do you feel that – was that the matchup that you really, when you won the championship, was that the matchup that you saw that would eventually come together or you thought that was the most appropriate opponent or was there anyone else that you had in mind that you were targeting?
Nicco Montano: Yes, I mean obviously Sarj, but that’s not the way it happened so this is what it’s going to be.
Rodney James Edgar: And are you happy – you’re happy with the way it turned out? I mean you got a good, you got a good opponent with a good reputation and like I said, obviously, the odds makers think highly of her. What are your thoughts on her?
Nicco Montano: She’s a human just like any other person, so she’s beatable.
Rodney James Edgar: All right. Thanks very much. Valentina are you there?
Valentina Shevchenko: I’m here, yes.
Operator: And Rodney, go ahead.
Rodney James Edgar: Oh. I was just going to – okay, okay. Yes, so I was going to say how did the bout really come together on your end, you know, obviously jumping into a title fight, it’s a great opportunity for you, you’ve been in there with the best of the best before. How did you secure this match?
Valentina Shevchenko: From my side, I’m doing everything, like, to prepare for the fight. I am good, to feel me healthy, to feel me strong, to feel me very ((inaudible)) now, I have like very great training camp. I started it like long time ago and now it’s we have – we’re almost on the final line so feeling exactly good. Already almost made weight so I’m not worrying about weight count, about nothing and just wait, the time, exact time, Saturday, 8th of September and like how I say every time, not much speak, not much talk before the fight. It’s every word what I wanted to tell. I will tell in the inside of Octagon.
Rodney Edgar James: Excellent. One more for Valentina, you’ve been to Dallas, Texas before. Obviously you were there for the Summer Press Tour, the kickoff conference, I think it was last year, how do you like Dallas, Texas? A big sports town, this is probably the fourth or fifth time the UFC has gone there to put on a show. They always put on a great event in Dallas. How do you feel about fighting there?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, I’ve been living in Texas for almost two years and a half and I really like the culture of Texas now, like in general. Dallas, Houston, Corpus Christi, Austin, every city that we travel around the Texas is bring their own energy and every time, it’s like so positive energy and I’m very happy that next fight will happen exactly in Texas and so just can’t wait and final preparations for the fight.
Rodney Edgar James: Thank you so much, ladies.
Nicco Montano: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you, and that’s Star 1 if you would like to signal for a question at this time. Star 1 for any questions. Our next call will come from Damon Martin with FloCombat.com. Please go ahead.
Damon Martin: Hi everybody. First question is for Nicco. Nicco, this last eight or nine months for you should have been kind of a celebration, you won the title, you were the first ever Women’s Flyweight Champion but somehow, you kind of got painted as a bad guy or a bad girl because you weren’t fighting as often as people wanted you to. What has been the toughest part of these past eight or nine months? Just the frustration of not being able to fight or just the assumptions people were making about you?
Nicco Montano: None of that. My health was my main issue. After I got off the TUF Show, I had to deal with a number of health issues. After my fight with Roxy, I was in a boot, same thing, dealing with a chronic bacterial infection and that’s when Valentina chose to call me out. So, everybody thought that I was just hanging out at home when I was literally like having a viral infection throughout my entire body, hindering me from spending more than two days a week at practice.
Damon Martin: And you know, you’ve fought, you know, some very good competition on the show but you know, everyone tries to play it off, because it was the Ultimate Fighter, that somehow, you know, maybe it wasn’t you know, as deep of a fight or whatever the case may be. Do you feel like this is your opportunity to kind of prove yourself as champion and defend the title and prove you belong there?
Nicco Montano: No, I’ve already proven that. I feel like I’ve already proven that with this fight after I beat Shevchenko, I mean, it’s just going to show other people that and like my true people who are inspired by me, that no matter what the odds are, you can still come out successful and victorious.
Damon Martin: Awesome. And a couple questions for Valentina. Valentina, you’ve been in these title, you know, you’ve been in a title fight situation before. What is the biggest difference now, you know, having gone through it before with the fight with Amanda, are you more confident or are you just, you know, you’ve gone five rounds? I mean, what’s the biggest difference going into this title fight versus the last one?
Valentina Shevchenko: The biggest difference is that this time, I will fight in my weight class, I will not have a fight with some opponent bigger than me, heavier than me and every time, say, that I was fighting up there, opponents in 135, so this time, it will be exact same size opponent as me so I think this is the biggest difference between that time and this time.
Damon Martin: And Valentina, you are the favorite in the fight. Obviously, you have the experience, you’ve faced a lot of good competition but what impresses you about Nicco? What you’ve seen out of her, what impresses you about her game and what she brings into this fight?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, every time I’m preparing for my fight, it doesn’t matter who is opponent and what it will be, the fight, I preparing on my 100%. So I will be ready for the fight. This fight is same good as I was ready for any fight that I have done. I have so many experiences fighting with different opponents so I know exactly that new fight is a new fight. You cannot put your feeling into like, think about okay, it was like this, now I will feel me as the same, exactly the same. No, new fight is a new history.
So it will be new fight with some different opponent and she has her own style and I think it will be good fight. It will be good fight and both of us will try to give like a good show for all UFC fans and this is the most important, I hope that everyone will enjoy the fight and of course my goal and my like everything – what I – for what I am preparing right now is for the victory and nothing else.
Damon Martin: Awesome. Thanks, Valentina.
Valentina Shevchenko: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question will come from Daniel Olea with Zoaa Deportiva. Please go ahead.
Daniel Olea: I only have two questions for Valentina. Valentina, do you think the advantage, that fighting Amanda, someone stronger and with higher power than Nicco, is going to be in your favor in this fight?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, I say every time that I’m like truly martial artist. I was in martial arts in five years old so all my life, I was training, I was fighting and of course, every opponent is different. Everyone there has their own style. For example, when I was preparing to Amanda, I was looking exactly for her style and exactly what I have to do, how I have to manage my defense and what I have to avoid. Now I’m thinking the same about Nicco. I look through her fight, I see, I have like a knowledge of her movements and like I say, every fan is very different – fight is very different so they – each opponent, they’re – have their own style and I know exactly that – I know my good sides, I know what I have to do on the side, I know exactly everything that I have to do and I will be ready for everything that Nicco will throw out for – to – on the fight so doesn’t matter too much for me. So the more important for me is smart preparation and how I will feel on the fight.
Daniel Olea: And my last question for you, ((Foreign Language Spoken 11:50))
Valentina Shevchenko: ((Foreign Language Spoken 12:07-13:14))
Daniel Olea: Gracias, thank you.
Valentina Shevchenko: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question will come from Jeffrey Harris with 411 Mania MMA.
Jeffrey Harris: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us and thank you for bringing a great card like this to Texas, really appreciate it. First question for Valentina. This fight will be just over one year since your last fight for the UFC title. Fights for the UFC title don’t come around very often so what does it mean to you now to be having another shot at a UFC championship and how do you have to approach that, considering, you know, you lost your first fight for the UFC title and that was a fight you thought you won and I think a lot of people thought you won that fight as well. So how do you – how do you get past that loss to move forward in fighting for a title again?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, first of all, I’m very happy that UFC finally decided to create one more weight division, weight divisions for female, for all women, so 125, I think, in the future, it will be more excited and more interesting to watch weight class of girls. So how I say, like a lot of girls, they are going down – or going up from 115 and going down from 135 to this weight class and also like from a lot of very talented and very strong girls, they are coming from outside of UFC so it will be very interesting and very dynamic weight class. So about the last fight, so as you say, very right, it’s past already like one year since the last fight and I made like whole analysis so that I had to make from that fight, so and life it’s never end on this point and I’m continue and I’m trying to make me better to win the next fight and this is how I am because I’m not in martial arts like few years, I’ve been in martial arts since like very young girl. All my life, I spent, I was training, I was fighting, I was participating in different competition so I know exactly how to manage all this and more, I already pass it. I didn’t think about that one, it’s already say fade in the back past and I never bring nothing like bad emotions from the past to my future.
Jeffrey Harris: And question for Nicco, earlier you said Valentina is human and she is beatable, well, I mean, you are right. She has lost before, both in MMA and kickboxing so have her losses in the UFC been a major point of study for you in your camp going into this fight?
Nicco Montano: No, I plan on her being the best that she can be the night of our fight, so I’m not focusing on how she’s losing fights, you know. I’m taking note on what she’s good at, I’m taking note at what I’m great at and then I’ll be able to capitalize through the timing.
Jeffrey Harris: What do you think – in your own words, what do you think Valentina is good at?
Nicco Montano: Striking, I think anybody will say that.
Jeffrey Harris: Okay, and question – and last question for Valentina. Do you plan on making the nose rose on this fight?
Valentina Shevchenko: I’m sorry, what?
Jeffrey Harris: Will the nose be rose after this fight is over?
Valentina Shevchenko: Oh. So funny, you make me thinking back about this word, you know, I never think about that, like I never thought about that since I was like speaking it to the – in the air and I just plan to do what I have to do. My goal is to win the fight and it doesn’t matter what I have to do and doesn’t matter at all for me, I will do it, stand up, put it in the ground, in the clinch, in the wrestling, doesn’t matter for me at all. I’m preparing for everything and just I – every time I’m saying it, I’m not taking part and I’m not on all my fights for participation. I’m there only for one reason, to win the fight and this is my mindset and this is my goal.
Jeffrey Harris: Thank you, Valentina and thank you, Nicco and good luck to both of you.
Valentina Shevchenko: Thank you.
Nicco Montano: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you, we’ll move now to Steven Marrocco with MMA Junkie. Please go ahead.
Steven Marrocco: I’ve got a question for Nicco. We were talking to James Vick last week and he said he took advantage of his underdog status by betting on himself. With the current odds, it seems like you could win a lot of money. Have you done that or has your family bet on you?
Nicco Montano: I don’t think we gamble. Most of my family doesn’t gamble and I don’t, so, I mean, no. I would –
Steven Marrocco: Would you, if you had the extra cash lying around?
Nicco Montano: Oh, absolutely. Gambling is just not one of my vices.
Steven Marrocco: Just out of curiosity, gambling’s not – okay. Sorry. So just out of curiosity, did you end up getting a new apartment after you won the belt?
Nicco Montano: Oh, yes. Definitely moved out of that basement.
Steven Marrocco: How is your life different since you won that title?
Nicco Montano: Besides moving into a bigger, more spacious place, I think I’ve been able to shine light onto where I’m from, the Navajo Nation and kind of all our trials going on. You know, we’re a third world country within this country and we don’t get recognized as such and we see, you know, a lot of people are kind of naïve when it comes to our cultures and traditions and I think that’s what’s most important in giving me strength and the confidence that I have and that’s why – I mean, that’s why I’m the champion. Not every person who wins a belt is going to be a champion per se, because they’re not, they’re not utilizing the advantage of the situation to the best and I think in this movement, particularly with the indigenous peoples, I’ve shown that, like I was saying before, no matter how much of an underdog you are, you know, you come out on top and you’re able – we’re all able to prevail so that’s definitely an analogy in our strength.
Steven Marrocco: Do you enjoy talking about those issues more than talking about the fight, necessarily?
Nicco Montano: Oh yes. I mean, this fight is so superficial in terms of what the real battles are, you know? There are children out there who don’t get the Western culture of just like school and then they get patronized for it or families who just live off the simple necessities of the earth and they get patronized and they’re getting told that they’re living in poverty situations and they’re poor and using those terms are just not at all what we’re doing, you know?
We’re being simple, we’re not stripping this earth until it’s bare, until there’s nothing left, until there’s no UFC in the world, you know, everybody who’s a fan of the UFC thinks that this is just how the world works, it’s just full of fighters and big headed ego people but that’s not it, absolutely not it and that’s not what I’m trying to show and tell the story of when I’m in there fighting these fights. You know, I’m doing it for a purpose, so I can represent somebody, represent a true meaning of being a champion.
Steven Marrocco: Do you think you’ve made a meaningful impact in the culture?
Nicco Montano: Yes, I do. You know, I didn’t think it was going to go this far and I didn’t think – I didn’t set out for it to be this way but that’s what it is and I’m happy to be – to be part of it and I’m happy to be, you know, on top of it because I feel like with all eyes looking on me for that motivation, it just pushes me more and more to become not even a better fighter, per se, but a better person, you know? And in terms of martial arts, that’s what it’s about – it’s all about respect and staying dedicated and showing that through the art of fighting, so definitely all just an analogy of what people can push through when it comes to stepping up to their game.
Steven Marrocco: Do you have any other goals for the Navajo nation?
Nicco Montano: Yes, you know, through fighting, I’ve been able to create this huge buzz but I go back home, I’ve been sick. I was sick this past year, so I wasn’t able to go home as often as I wanted to but showed up for my old high school graduation, this year’s graduation and everybody was so happy to see me and I made it a point to not really tell my accomplishments, because everybody has seen that, but tell about how I was raised in that same, similar space and how I am able to get through all these feats and these doubters, you know and naysayers and I just want them to know, you know, whatever they want to do, they can do it – it’s totally possible, not just thinking that they are limited because they live on the Res, because they don’t have running water, because they don’t have electricity, because they don’t have a vehicle to get to places.
So going home and just bringing that inspiration, you know, is something that I’d like to do, you know. As a fighter, we’re only, you know, realistic, we’re only going to be fighting for a certain amount of time but as a motivator, there’s so many ways to motivate a community and bring it up morale, especially when it comes to our traditions because they’re oral traditions so without anybody talking or sharing those stories, then they’re going to be – they’re going to be gone, so it’s kind of up to us and this next generation to just keep everything alive.
Steven Marrocco: Thank you, Nicco. Appreciate it.
Nicco Montano: Mhm.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question will come from Keith Shillan with TheMMATakeover.com. Please go ahead.
Keith Shillan: Thank you so much. My first question is for Valentina. Valentina, you said earlier that you’ve been training for this moment since you were five years old. Looking at the records, you have three times as many bouts as Nicco, you have been in more marquee matchups, you are the big betting favorite. Do you feel that, in a sense, maybe all the pressure is on you, because most people are expecting you to win?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, I not thinking about this at all because I think more pressure on her because she’s holding the belt. She’s who is a champion, she has to protect it. I’m come to take this belt and this is like, this is it, she has to be worry more than me because if she lose, she lose. And yes, I have been training all my life and I am very proud that my family is like martial artist family. My older sister, Antonina, she is 11-time world Muay Thai Champion. My mother, she is President of Kyrgyzstan Muay Thai Federation.
I’m very happy that she brought us to this world of martial arts, it gave me like opportunity to know this work and how it’s, everything works in here because martial arts is, myself, it’s like it’s raised me like a person. It’s given me all my education. Martial arts, for me, not only just like things what I am doing, it’s not only fights that I will do for a certain amount of time and that’s it, forget about it. No, it’s my lifestyle, it’s my philosophy, it’s my way of life and this is everything for me. I’m doing my martial arts not because some like different reasons but the main reason, because I enjoy what I am doing and I’m few – I see me very lucky to be martial artist.
Keith Shillan: One more question. You mentioned Antonina, say you win the title, she’s been very impressive, she’s in your weight class, I know you’ve already spoken that you will not fight each other. Is there a plan in place if she becomes number one contender, and you’re the champion? Like, what’s the plan?
Valentina Shevchenko: You know, like the plan is right now, she get her contract in UFC, she will have her first fight in UFC so she is just entered to these positions and she has to fight for becoming the like number one contender and I’m pretty sure she will do great and she will be number one, contender for the title, but I can say exactly that I never will fight my sister because it’s not something that my mom will want to see us fighting each other. No.
Keith Shillan: Okay.
Valentina Shevchenko: We have so many, so many other opponents in this weight class and other weight division so there is so many possibilities to fight with another girl and I don’t see any reason to fight my sister.
Keith Shillan: Thank you, Valentina. Over to Nicco. Nicco, last month, there was another big underdog, Henry Cejudo, we spoke to him at a conference call, many fans, many media members kind of overlooked him. Obviously he won the bigmatch, he pulled off the big upset. Do you see something like that and kind of use that as motivation heading into this fight?
Nicco Montano: Absolutely. You know, like I said, it’s not about labels, it’s about heart and will and sacrifices and I’ve made them all. So it’s not going to be a surprise to me, you know, at the end of that fight, to see that we’ve been through a battle and then see what the outcome is but definitely seeing Cejudo, I was there at that fight, up close and personal, and you could just see the pace and you could see how much both those fighters were willing to put in that cage and that was just – that was a spectacular fight and Cejudo came out victorious and he was the underdog so that’s definitely something that’s in my head now.
Keith Shillan: Yes, it was a spectacular fight. Your last fight, you fought Roxanne Modafferi, she might be the happiest person on earth. She’s smiling at the weigh-ins, shaking hands, smiling up right into the cage, obviously the pre-buildup to this fight seems as if it’s definitely a different mood between you and Valentina. What do you have to do to prepare for the mental side of this fight?
Nicco Montano: Nothing, you know, I think I – all the girls, including Roxanne, got to see what my preparation was through the – living on the TUF Show and it was just kind of peace and quiet for me, you know? Being alone and knowing that I have only myself to push myself through those five five-minute rounds, is all I need to know, so just getting comfortable with that solitude and centering myself is all the focus I need so I don’t need any other extra like buildup when it comes to media, I don’t need any extra buildup in terms of living not in the present time and moment. So the build-up is kind of not very climactic because I’m a pretty lone wolf when it comes to getting myself in focus so. I feel like I’ve been ready for this fight for a while and so it’s only a matter of time before it happens, September 8.
Keith Shillan: And my last question for both of you guys, what’s your predictions for the fight?
Nicco Montano: I’m going to win.
Keith Shillan: Knockout, submission? Yes, like knockout, submission, anything?
Nicco Montano: Probably both. I’ll probably get a submission and then get a knockout at the same time.
Keith Shillan: Okay. Valentina, you?
Valentina Shevchenko: Interesting. Interesting, like, first submission and then knockout. Yes. It’s something very cute. Sometimes, dreams they are every child say it’s a dream. But I know for sure it will be a good fight and everyone will enjoy the fight. I don’t have to say any predictions. I’m here to do my job, to do what I have to do and take what I have to take.
Keith Shillan: Thank you, ladies. Good luck to both of you.
Nicco Montano: Thank you.
Operator: And that will conclude our Q&A session for this portion of the call. I’ll turn the conference back over to Dave Lockett.
Dave Lockett: Thank you, everyone, for this first half of the call. We’re going to release Valentina and Nicco right now. We’ll just ask you to hold patiently and we will be getting Tyron Woodley and Darren Till on the line to start the second portion. Ladies, thank you very much. We’ll see you in Dallas. And to all the media, just please hold on for a few moments.
Operator: And, again, please hold. You’ll hear music. And good day, everyone, and welcome back to the UFC 228 conference call. I would now like to turn the conference back over to Dave Lockett. Please go ahead, Dave.
Dave Lockett: Yes. Thank you, everyone, for your patience. And welcome back to the second half of today’s UFC 228 conference call. Now with us today are the main event fighters for next Saturday’s fight, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and number two contender, Darren Till. I’ll now turn it back over to the conference center to start the questions.
Operator: Certainly. And again, everyone, that’s star 1 if you would like to signal for a question, star 1 for any questions. Our first call will come from Keith Shillan with TheMMATakeOver.com. Please go ahead.
Keith Shillan: Thank you so much for having me again. My first question is to Darren. Darren, last month you got into a little hot heat when you said that you didn’t care about your pregnant wife and your child. Obviously we all know that was taken out of context. You were misinterpreted. Unfortunately a lot of fans have turned against you because of that. Do you have anything to say to those fans to kind of try to bring them back?
Darren Till: I mean, I just said what I was feeling, you know, in the moment. We from Liverpool we speak a bit differently. You know, I speak with a lot of meaning. And it’s just how it is right now. It’s just my only focus is fighting on September 8.
And maybe it didn’t come out well, but I’m not apologizing or not trying to win back any friends. You know, it’s just the way it is. I’m a fighter. And people who have been through it know what I meant.
You know, my girlfriend, she follows me around 24 hours a day. See me daughter every night on Facetime. So I know what I meant and people close to me know what I meant. That’s all that matters really to be honest.
Keith Shillan: Darren, the big story line in this fight is your last fight you missed weight by four pounds. You knew you were going to be asked about it. There was a video that came out of you cutting weight. It looked terrible. What changes have you made to make sure that you make weight this time and you don’t kill your body like you did in the last fight?
Darren Till: Just drop my weight early. You know, I’m so experienced. I’ve cut weight a bunch of times and I know I can make weight. And I do leave a lot of weight to cut for the week of the fight. So this time I’ve got the weight lower.
So going into fight week, you know, it’s not going to be much of a struggle. That’s the fun of this. We’re still on time. We’re still on time, you know, I don’t know how many days we’re out. It’s, like, nine days or so. And everything seems to be going good with my weight. So I’m a happy person about my weight.
Keith Shillan: Tyron was asked this week he mentioned that if you missed weight, he would not take a fight with Kamaru Usman. Say something happens with Tyron. Would you take a fight with him on short notice?
Darren Till: Yes. I’d take a fight against anybody in the welterweight division if the UFC offered it. So I said in an interview I understand why Tyron wouldn’t take the fight as I said. I feel his best attribute is that he’s an intelligent champion, he’s not a stupid champion.
Or, you know, I would accept a fight against anyone not only Usman, any fighter that’s willing to fight. So, you know, it’s different when I set against a normal fighter, you know, it’s just the way it is.
Keith Shilla: Thank you, Darren. Over to champ, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you in the cage. Welcome back. My first question to you is in your fights, Tyron, one thing that really stands out is how strong you are, you know, how powerful you punch, how strong your wrestling is.
But this is the first time, I believe, that you were a much smaller fighter in the match. What do you have to do to overcome the size advantage of Darren?
Tyron Woodley: You know, I’m always the shorter fighter. I don’t think I’m much smaller than Darren. I think he’s a big welterweight. But I fought many guys that were former middleweights, guys that were supposed to be a welterweight showed up at middleweight. So I think I’m accustomed to fighting guys that are a little bit heavier than me and definitely guys that are taller than me.
I mean, I can only count on one hand the amount of guys I fought that were under 6 feet tall just given the weight division. So that’s not really, you know, the largest part of my game plan to try and dictate what am I going to do about something I can’t control. He’s taller and so are many other fighters I fought.
Keith Shillan: Okay. And my final question for you, Tyron, obviously right now everything we keep seeing on MMA is super fights. You have a long titled defense run. If you beat Darren, you would have another one.
There was talk before when Michael Bisping was the champ about you moving up to middleweight. Is that still in your view? Do you still want to go up to middleweight and try to conquer that?
Tyron Woodley: No. You just said my opponent was bigger than me, So I got a super fight coming up September 8 and I think focusing on that and giving your opponents the proper respect is the only way that you can open up any of the doors.
So I’m not thinking too far down the road or then it will be somebody holding your belt. So my focus right now is just fighting Darren Till. I’m going to go out there and put on a great performance. A fighter is worthy, you know, of my attention, you know bringing, you know, true skills to the table. So I think that should be my focus. And we’ll talk about any other type of fights after this fight is over with.
Keith Shillan: All right. Thank you so much, guys. I wish you both luck.
Darren Till: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. We’ll move next to Jeffrey Harris with 411MANIA MMA. Please go ahead.
Jeffrey Harris: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Thank you for joining us today. So a question for Darren Till. On a scale of 1 to 10, how sick are you of answering questions about your weight and the weight cut going into this fight?
Darren Till: It is what it is, mate. You know, you make a mistake in your job. You know, this is my job. And I made the mistake. I didn’t make the weight. There’s nobody to blame.
You know, every question everyone wants to start with comments I’ve made or weight I haven’t made. No one wants to start with the good things. So that’s just how the world seems to be nowadays. They just want to talk about the negativity and the adversity. And that’s fine by me, you know what I mean, as I’ve said.
Whether it’s adversity good or bad, you just have to face it head on. So I’m sick of it. I just can’t wait to, you know, make weight Friday and spit some things up to some people, you know, a lot of people who are doubting that I’m going to make weight, you know.
A lot of people aren’t even thinking about the fight. They’re just, you know, make weight, make weight, make weight. It’s like I’m the only fighter who’s never made weight in the UFC. So I just can’t wait to make weight.
Jeffrey Harris: For the champ, Tyron Woodley, before this fight, a fight was booked for an interim welterweight title between Colby Covington and Rafael dos Anjos, a fight you called for the boo boo belt. Do you think this fight getting made pretty much validates everything of what you said about what you called the boo boo title?
Tyron Woodley: You know, I personally prefer, you know, to kind of focus on me and Darren Till because obviously we fight September 8. I think this fight is a great style match and about two great strikers that are going to face each other. I think this a fight the fans want to see.
That fight was something that was put together. I wasn’t involved with it. And for whatever reason, the UFC wanted to put it together. And I’m pretty sure they have their reasons why. I just felt like the contendorship of the welterweight division wasn’t clear.
So now this is the opponent that I’m facing. I’m excited to fight Darren Till. I’ll go out there and put on a great performance and come away with my belt.
Jeffrey Harris: Now, Tyron, another thing, I noticed a lot of people are talking about Darren Till’s size going into this fight. But, I mean, I’ve noticed throughout your career you tend to do very well again strikers and kickboxers. So I think on many levels this matchup style, I think, favors you. And I can’t think of many fighters like you that Darren has faced throughout his career. Would you agree with that?
Tyron Woodley: Yes. I think he faced a few seasoned veterans and obviously Stephen Thompson is the number one contender. I do think just because of my time in the sport and I got a jumpstart, I have faced more guys that are similar to him, you know, than he has me.
Obviously every striker is different. Every striker brings a different skillset. Every fighter depending on where they are at in their career have different levels of hunger and how much they want it.
I think he obviously wants it. I think he believes he can beat me. And that’s enough right there just for me to be motivated on a whole different level to come out there and put on a convincing performance and get him out of there.
So it’s not my first time fighting a striker. It’s not my first time fighting somebody that’s bigger than me. It’s not my first fighting a young talent, a fighter that’s undefeated.
But one thing I’ve always done is I’ve always done my homework and I’ve always respected my opponent. And I’ve always did the proper prep for them. And that’s what I thrive in. That’s why, you know, I feel like I’ve been the best. And at this point, I’m in a really great spot. I feel like I’ve done everything I need to do. I’m excited about it and we’re ready to get it on.
Jeffrey Harris: And for Darren, what do you think is the key way to fight Tyron Woodley and make this the fight that you want it to be? And that’s my last question. Thank you both.
Darren Till: I just think pressure-wise, it’s a different type of pressure. I think that the pressure on Tyron, like, he did not worry – you try to give him pressure but to not worry about what he’s going to give back because he counters. Yes, he’s got powerful hands but he knows how to counter. So when you throw him the punches, he’s waiting for the counter.
So, you know, it’s about getting in and out, making it that type of fight. You know, it is what it is. That’s what it’s about. It’s about me imposing my will Tyron, and Tyron imposing his will on me.
I just feel like a different type of pressure because if you give him the type of pressure that a lot of these, you know, strikers have, they lunge in, you know what I mean, and that’s where he gets them with a big counter. So that’s what I’ve seen anyway.
Jeffrey Harris: Thank you, gentlemen, and good luck to both of you.
Darren Till: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. We’ll move now to Damon Martin with FloCombat.com. Please go ahead.
Damon Martin: Hey, guys. The first question for Tyron Woodley. Tyron, in the past you’ve said, you know, training for Wonder Boy and training for a guy like Demian Maia was harder because they are specialists. They’re very odd, you know, kind of unique fighters.
Obviously Darren Till is an amazing fighter. But was it easier to train for Darren Till than it was for maybe those fighters because he’s not as, you know, “specialized”?
Tyron Woodley: I wouldn’t say it’s easier. You know, sometimes, you know, us fighters, we get trapped into loving hit mits and we love to spar and we love to do those things.
And with Demian Maia and Wonder Boy it forced me in a position where I had to really, really get into the skillset. I had to really learn what they were doing and why they were doing it. And then I had to spar. So I didn’t get as much time.
This fight, obviously, I’m fighting a guy who has been known to spar a lot. And, you know, he fights that way. And it’s a very similar training camp that I had when I was first coming up. So it was kind of actually fun, refreshing because I enjoy sparring. Getting back in there and get some heavy rounds in there.
And it was a different type of training camp where I can actually use more tools and I can actually put myself in different situations than in the past camps it was heavily defensive so you just move positions or takedowns or look for openings. I had to be a lot more patient.
You know, when you’re fighting against some guys that are known to be strikers, you know, I think that’s going to make the fight a different pace fight.
Damon Martin: And, Tyron, you know, you’ve defended your title multiple times now. And I’m sure you’ve seen the statistics that are out there that, you know, I think the longest reigning champions in the UFC, you know, it’s pretty short lived after Demetrius, you know, lost his belt. It’s not easy to hold onto a UFC title.
You know, how important is it for you to continue to defend this title and kind of add that part to your legacy? Because I think we’ve seen, even getting to two or three title defenses is not easy at this level anymore.
Tyron Woodley: You know, because everybody is well rounded now. You know, back in the day it used to be the wrestler versus the striker, the striker versus the grappler and vice versa. But now we’re in a position where you’ve got guys that are great strikers that can defend shots. You’ve got great wrestlers that can throw powerful hands.
And also, you know, there’s a lot more access to watching film on people. Back in the day, the guy was 10 – 0, you didn’t have no film on him. You know, you saw him when you getting in the octagon.
So now it’s the ability to prepare a little bit smarter. The training techniques are a little bit different. So there’s so many different styles. There’s so many different assets and skillsets that are brought to the table.
You know, you match Till with Usman it might be a different story. You match me up with Wonder Boy, you know, we can see completely different fights just because of the action, the use and the skill set. So that’s why it’s so difficult.
I try not to focus on a title run and how many defenses and break the records. I sort of focus on these fights. This is my super fight. This is the biggest fight of my career. You know, I’m in great shape. I had a great training camp.
You know, I feel like all the pieces to the pie. And we’ve addressed those issues that we’ve seen in film. And that’s my goal to go out there and have a great performance, great performance, great performance. If I can focus on that, shit, before you know it, maybe I will rack up, you know, enough title defenses to put me up there.
Damon Martin: And, you know, Tyron, you know I know everyone has heard you say that, you know, if there is an unfortunate incident fight week, you know, you’re not fighting anybody but Darren Till. You can’t speak for other fighters. I don’t want to ask you to do that.
But is there a certain level, like, in your head thinking it’s kind of unfair to anybody to fight a new opponent on 24 hours’ notice? Isn’t that a little crazy at this level of the game to ask a champion or anybody else to, you know, fight somebody new on 24 hours’ notice? Do you feel like that’s a bit of an unfair ask no matter who it is?
Tyron Woodley: You know, I mean, in hoops, basketball, you’ve get to the NBA titles, you say, oh, you know what? The Golden State Warriors can’t make it today. We’re going to throw Cleveland in there. Yes, they might be able to do it. But they’re not punching each other in the face and it’s not a six foot three striker versus a five foot ten, five foot eleven wrestler, that’s different.
I think the mindset, the money, the time, the preparation that goes into preparing for a fighter, I mean, I’m pretty sure Darren Till don’t want to prepare to fight me and then all of a sudden, you know, two seconds later say, okay, you’re fighting this guy.
So some people want us to be just fighters. And it’s not just fighting anymore. This is a business. This is entertainment. I’ll fight anybody, anytime. If it came down to life or death, I think we all would. You know, if I came in and I grabbed your kids’ freaking backpack and tried to throw them into a car, I think you’re going to be willing to fight, too, Damon.
So I don’t think we have to use that same mindset in our sport. We want to be professional. We want to be taken serious.
You know, I can’t control what’s going on. I’m not putting too much into the fact on if he missed weight or if he doesn’t make weight because at the end of the day that’s his responsibility. He’s the one who is a fighter and he has to, you know, do what he has to do for his career.
I’m focusing on myself. I’m focusing not so much on making the weight but I’m focusing on being prepared. And that’s where my focus is at. I’m not paying any mind to the Usman conversation. I’m really not paying mind to if he misses or makes weight because, you know, this is a big opportunity. And I’m going to assume that he would want to try to seize the moment and come in at championship weight.
Damon Martin: Awesome. Thanks, Tyron. A couple questions for Darren Till. Darren, you know, you’ve fought a lot of guys in the UFC and you’ve got a lot of experience. And I know this is a mixed martial arts fight. It’s not a wrestling match.
But Tyron does have, you know, an incredible wrestling background. How confident are you when you’re wrestling or should I say your wrestling defense considering, you know, in your record you haven’t really fought a high level wrestler, especially Tyron’s level before?
Darren Till: I’m confident. I’m a good wrestler. I don’t give myself a lot of credit for how good of a wrestler I am, like, defensively and offensively. Before I got in the UFC, I actually fought some good wrestlers. I fought a guy in Argentina. He had been to the Olympics, Greco wrestler. You know, I’m going to fight this wrestling okay.
So I’m extremely confident that we all have holes in our game. People ask me, you know, some fighters they say I just know I’m going to win because my all around game is better. If you wear it like that, coming to a fight. Say a fighter has his strengths and has his weaknesses, Tyron has his strengths over me and I have my strengths over him. And that’s how the fight is going to play out. Just strengths to weaknesses. So I’m extremely confident with my wrestling offensively and defensively.
Damon Martin: And, Darren, you said after the fight with Wonder Boy, you know, you were completely okay if it took you a couple more fights to get to a title shot. But then this kind of came up rather quickly.
How familiar were you with Tyron at that point? Like, had you already kind of thought about breaking him down in your head, you know, even when you weren’t getting the title fight? Or did you just focus on him for the first time, you know, six weeks ago when, let’s say, when they offered you the fight?
Darren Till: No. I focus on every single person in the welterweight division from top ten to the number ones and the champion. I’ve got sights on all of them, all of them. So when I was coming up, I knew who Tyron was. I knew who they all were.
I know who ever single fighter who fights on that welterweight roster is. And it’s my business to know who they are. It’s my business to know what they do, how they fight. That’s my job. That is my day-to-day job.
So I know exactly who they all are and especially Tyron because fought a lot longer than me. You know, I was young when he was fighting in Strike Force and shit like that. So I know exactly who he is, five years ago, ten years ago. I mean, I know who they are all know. All I know, it’s my job to know.
Damon Martin: Awesome. Thanks, Darren. I appreciate it.
Darren Till: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question will come from Sergio Gomez with Diario Mma. Please go ahead.
Sergio Gomez: The first question is for Tyron Woodley. I’m just going to ask you straight up. Do you feel that the UFC wants Darren Till to beat you?
Tyron Woodley: I feel Darren Till wants to beat me. That’s all I need to ask in the back of my mind. So, you know, at the end of the day, you know, I can’t go and try to guess what’s in the minds of everybody that’s pulling the strings and everybody that’s putting pipes together. All I can have is what’s in my mind.
My mind is to be the greatest welterweight of all time. You know, when you get the call for you to fight the young, hungry fighter, that’s some of the challenge I’ll take for sure. So that’s all I’m really focused on. I really don’t have an answer for that question.
I think my opponent is very confident in his abilities. And, you know, honestly and truly sometimes they get in your face and they say a lot of stuff. And certainly we’ve seen Colby Covington talk a lot of stuff. And what happened when he got theopportunity? He dished out when somebody else fucked up. So that alone right there is enough motivation for me.
Sergio Gomez: All right. Do you think that a win over Till will finally get you the respect that you deserve as a defending champion that has been doing constantly and that has defended the belt many times in a short amount of time?
Tyron Woodley: I’m not for certain. I just know I have to get the win. You know, the win over Till to me is a victory. It’s a victory over a tough opponent, a victory over, you know, a complex puzzle the UFC put together. And that’s all it really is.
You know, I can’t control what people actually think and their perception of you. I can’t control that. You know, I’ve been in the greatest spot in the sport. I’ve been the great athlete in the sport. I’ve been the boring fighter. I’ve been the knockout artist.
I’ve been so many different things. And I’m really still the same person. So I can’t tell the fans what type of mood to be in that day, whatever they want to call themselves. I’m just going to go out there. Do my thing. Put on a great show. I”ll get the win and continue my legacy.
Sergio Gomez: All right, man. Thank you. And for Darren, you’ve been on the spotlight a lot more now preparing for this fight. You just had a media event in the UFC Performance Institute. Do you feel more pressure now that more eyes are on you?
Darren Till: No. I don’t even think about pressure. If I had to deal with pressure, if I had to deal with, you know, all that stuff, I shouldn’t really be fighting in my opinion, you know.
So to me, 10 million eyes, 10,000 eyes, it doesn’t matter. It’s still the same fight in my head. So, you know, if a guy, you know, it’s normal to feel scared, to feel nervous, to get butterflies before a fight. That is normal emotions for a human being.
But if you start letting the types of pressure because there’s more people watching, because there’s more comments, because there’s more people who want a piece from you, this is our job. This is our job to fight. So pressure doesn’t come into it. If you can’t deal with the pressure before fighting, go and do something else.
Sergio Gomez: All right. Thank you to both. Good luck on Saturday.
Darren Till: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question will come from Ryan Sprague with MyMMANews.com. Please go ahead.
Ryan Sprague: Thank you, guys. You know, both of you were mentioning how despite kind of focusing more on negative aspects. So let’s try and see if we can turn the page on this. I’ll start with you, Darren. You know, you mentioned how everyone was saying that…
Darren Till: Thank God for that.
Ryan Sprague: I’m sorry.
Darren Till: I said, thank God for that.
Ryan Sprague: Yes. You mentioned how everybody says that, you know, people took your words out of context. And, you know, so let’s try and set the record straight here, direct question, direct answer.
Darren, regardless of the outcome of this fight, are you going to take the time off and spending it, you know, with your kids and with your girl and just kind of enjoying the moment after the fight?
Darren Till: Yes. That’s what I do every fight. I like to come back to my hotel room after my fight and just, I don’t like go and party. And I don’t like to do anything. I just like to sit there and just reflect on the weeks that I’ve had. You know it’s fucking hard training and just reflect on the fight and my life, what I’m doing.
And then, you know, go back home and see my friends. You know, when I’m in camp, I don’t see no one. I’m not out with friends. I’m not going out and seeing my family. You know, I’m locked away. You know, I only think about the fight. That’s the only thing that matters to me.
Then after the fight, you know, everyone gets a piece of Darren Till again. I go and see my mom every weekend. You know, my daughter, she obviously lives in a different country and I’m going to see her after this fight. That’s the life of a fighter after a fight. But right now, it’s a fucking fight. Few people on this earth can do what we do. So I need to focus on the fight. I don’t care about anything else.
Ryan Sprague: Thank you very much, Darren. And finally for Tyron. Tyron, you know, you’ve been defending your belt. And, you know, you’ve had some time off. Obviously you’ve had a lot of fighters who were kind of thrown your way.
And, you know, you got the fight with Darren Till. Regardless of the outcome here, you know, it’s a quick flight from St. Louis to Dallas. Do you plan on spending a few days in Dallas or do you plan on going back up and celebrating with your friends and family in St. Louis?
Tyron Woodley: I have friends and family coming to Dallas so I’m going to celebrate with them a little bit there. But my kids, they won’t make it to the fight. So I’ll be back in St. Louis probably the next day so to just celebrate with them.
Ryan Sprague: And finally, you know, you’ve been wanting to get a fight back in St. Louis for some time. Is that something that you’re going to ask Dana and ask Sean Shelby if your next fight be in your home town of St. Louis?
Tyron Woodley: You know, that’s up to the UFC. You know, I think if they come to St. Louis, it will make sense to put me on a card. You know, there’s a lot of St. Louis talent. You know, you have Michael Johnson. You’ve got me. You know, even Robbie Lawler who is not from St. Louis, he has a big following there. You’ve got Matt Hughes.
So we’ve got a rich tradition in combat sports. But to be honest, I don’t even mind where I fight at. I enjoy fighting in Vegas. It’s like my second home when it comes down to fighting.
Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise when you get away from home. Everybody wants tickets everybody wants, you know, your attention and all these demands. And, you know, my kids are going to be there so I’m going to be ripping and running and driving
So sometimes it’s better to actually focus more on the fight when I’m fighting outside of St. Louis. So I haven’t fought in St. Louis since 2009. And if the UFC put another fight on there, they wanted me there, I would say I would go out and put on for my city. But outside of that, it’s not like something I’m just being there doing that for.
Ryan Sprague: Outstanding. Best of luck to you gentlemen. Thank you.
Operator: That will conclude today’s question and answer session. I’ll now turn the conference back over to Dave Lockett. Please go ahead, sir.
Dave Lockett: Yes, thank you. And first I would like to thank Tyron and Darren for taking time on today’s call as well as all the media who participated. We’re looking forward to a great fight next Saturday in Dallas, UFC 228. We hope to see you all there. Thank you.
Darren Till: Thank you.
Operator: Again, that will conclude today’s conference. Thank you all for joining and you may now disconnect.