The main players took the stage Thursday in the final press conference before Saturday’s STRIKEFORCE: World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament Final when Josh Barnett faces Daniel Cormier, live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast) from the HP Pavilion.
The powerful Barnett (31-5), of Fullerton, Calif., has not lost a fight since 2006 and has submitted or knocked out six consecutive opponents. The undefeated Cormier (9-0), of San Jose, is one of the most talented wrestlers in the heavyweight division and is a former star for Oklahoma State University and the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team.
Joining the pair Thursday were Gilbert Melendez (20-2), of San Francisco, and bitter rival Josh Thomson (19-4, 1 NC), of San Jose, who will fight in a rubber match of their thrilling trilogy as Melendez looks to defend his STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Championship.
In other fights on SHOWTIME, Rafael Feijao takes on Mike Kyle and Nah-Shon Burrell battles Chris Spang. A four-fight preliminary card televised LIVE on SHOWTIME EXTREME at 8 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) will precede the four-fight main card on SHOWTIME.
Mauro Ranallo will call the action alongside analysts Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich with Heidi Androl serving as cageside reporter. The executive producer is David Dinkins Jr.
What the principal fighters had to say on Thursday:
On whether or not people are discounting his experience:
“I don’t care what people say. I see my experience as being the biggest advantage in this fight. All that experience comes with all the years of training and all the fights I’ve had and all the different opponents, (basically) all the times I’ve been in the ring as a pro wrestler, as a fighter. Experience is a pretty easy word to throw around. But I don’t think it’s as simple to just say experience. I have to believe ultimately in everything I do and everything I possess. So it’s the same as before and the same that it’s always going to be.”
On whether or not he feels like an underdog:
“Yeah I do. Honestly I do. Josh was a UFC champion and he’s done a ton of things. He’s beaten a lot of guys, but I’ve beaten quite a few of those guys too and I know I can do pretty well against the other ones, so I take it in stride. I should be the underdog because of his experience and his accomplishments, but I’ll be ready to go.”
“After that first fight Josh beat me up pretty good and he helped me reinvent myself as a fighter. Not only did I learn to take the center and be a smarter fighter, not get outpointed, but he helped me learn to take my job seriously. At the time I trained to do my stuff and then after that fight I treated everything like a real professional. I structure my training camps now. I train harder. I eat smart. I write everything out. I treat it like a real profession. It’s my career now. And ever since that loss that’s how it’s been.”
“Not much has changed for me since the second fight. Basically I’m just following a different game plan. The second time I fought I had to come off a 15-month layoff so I was just excited to be back in the cage. Anyone who has seen me fight can tell by the smile on my face that I enjoy to fight. I love it. So not much has changed, but I’m just going to change my game plan.”