Well, folks, I'm in downtown Denver right now at the 16th Street Mall because the public Wi-Fi is more reliable (read: functional) than the Wi-Fi available at the former Braun's Bar & Grill. That's where the press conference (timed to precede tickets becoming available on Friday) for UFC 135 just took place, right outside of the Pepsi Center that will host the event. Headlined by Jon Jones versus Rampage Jackson for the UFC light heavyweight championship, both fighters joined Dana White for a question and answer session, with both the media and the more than 100 fans that waited for an hour outside the venue. Here's what I was able to gather from the event:
- Bones and Rampage were both early to the event and gave interviews to the media before the actual presser began. Both were in the same room with no clear animosity - more on this later.
- If you're ever down in the dumps about your looks, do yourself a favor and hang out with the media. It does wonders for your self-esteem.
- I didn't recognize any "mainstream" MMA journalists in the media section, but that has a lot to do with my complete inability to recognize Ron Kruck from about five feet away. I'm not sure whether I should be proud or ashamed of that.
- Lest you think that the UFC despises all non-Iole writers equally: today's press packet included pieces by Sergio Non of USA Today, Mike Chiappetta of MMA Fighting ad Maggie Hendricks from Yahoo. The packet seems designed to provide actual facts to those that aren't really into the sport for when they're putting together their coverage.
- Today is Jon Jones' 24th birthday (leading him to repeatedly tell Dana "stop calling me 'kid', I'm 24 now"), which means that three of the UFC's current champions (Jones, Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo) are younger than I am. /kills self
- Both fighters shrugged off the significance of their bout representing the first UFC title fight in history with two African American fighters (Rampage/Rashad being the first headlining bout with that distinction). Rampage said "it's 2011" in response, while Jones claimed a post-racial, Colbertesque color-blindness.
- Kruck asked Rampage if he felt the need to "teach the kid a lesson" and represent for the "old guard." Jones chimed in that, at the age of 24, he wasn't an infant, while Rampage asked how 33 was considered old. Rampage: "You're talking like I'm Randy Couture's decrepit ass." Both had a lot of fun with this question.
- Rampage claimed that Jon Jones was probably the least experienced champion in UFC history, and that his experience would be the difference in the fight. Jones then kindly reminded Rampage of a guy named Brock Lesnar.
- Dana is asked by local media (sigh) when they're coming back to Denver. Dana: "We haven't come yet!" Rampage runs off the podium laughing and repeats the line a couple of times throughout the presser.
- Rampage is doing most of the talking now: claims that Jones beat a rusty Shogun, which lead to this exchange:
Jones: There's always going to be excuses.
Rampage: I know. I always have a few when I lose.
Jones: Are you thinking of some right now?
Rampage: Don't need to, man. You're going to need a bunch, though.
The rest is at HKL, and is (I dare say) better than this.