The four championship-competitors slated to test each others’ skills on Showtime at tomorrow night’s “Strikeforce – Houston” event sat down with media on Thursday to give one last take on their respective match-ups before fully focusing on the final few steps of preparation for the show. However, while the fighters were in attendance, absent was the trash-talk/braggadocio often associated with building up a bout, and in general it was clear all of the Mixed Martial Artists would be entering the cage on Saturday evening with a great deal of admiration for their opponents.
“’Feijao’ has been around for a while. He’s a tough fighter. He’s experienced and I’m still young in the game. He’s a seasoned vet who is tough and hungry. That’s why I’m the underdog; that’s why I’m not going to take him lightly,” said Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion “King Mo” Lawal of in-ring adversary Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. “I respect ‘Feijao’. I have no problem with him. We’ll handle everything in the ring on Saturday. We’ll do that and have fun.”
“I’ve trained so hard. I saw Mo’s last fight and I know he’s good at everything…well-rounded. I knew I had to train for everything for Mo,” responded Cavalcante. “I think there will be a lot of surprises in this fight. I think Mo has a lot of things to show on Saturday, but so do I.”
The level of mutual respect was also maintained when Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza took to the microphone. In fact, Kennedy and Souza, who will face off for the promotion’s vacant middleweight title at the event, both seemed to imply they had trained harder for each other than for any previous opponent they’d faced.
When asked about his opponent, the Brazilian BJJ specialist replied, “I’ve been training very hard and I’m prepared for this fight. Kennedy is a great fighter. I don’t know if I’ll win by submission or knockout, but I’ve been training very hard. He is a great wrestler – great ground and pound and a strong opponent. The belt deserves a good fight, a battle. I know Tim and I are going to fight hard for that title. ”
Kennedy also appeared ready to honor the championship by turning in a top-level performance, saying, “I don’t want to dilute the value of the Strikeforce belt. I’d love to fight (Jason “Mayhem” Miller) if I win the title, but it’s not about me. It’s about the Strikeforce belt and the honor that comes with it.” Kennedy has fought Miller twice before, splitting the results with both the win and loss coming by way of decision.
“I’ve brought in some of the best guys I could get my hands on in BJJ. My fight camp in the last few months has been getting ready for Jacare, who’s one of the best grapples in MMA history. I’ve done nothing but prepare for Jacare and this fight,” continued the former Green Beret sniper. “He’s a hard guy to wear down. He’s an athletic specimen. I’m definitely going to bring the fight to him the whole time. I hope he gets tired – that would be cool.”
On top of the championship clashes, “Strikeforce – Houston” also features lightweights Jorge Gurgel and KJ Noons facing each other in hopes of advancing one step closer to a crack at the 155-pound title and former professional wrestler Bobby Lashley facing 8-1 Chad Griggs.
Stay tuned to Five Ounces of Pain on Saturday night for live coverage from the event!