WSOF 8 Media Conference Call

WSOF8-posterFor more than an hour and fifteen minutes, World Series of Fighting president Ray Sefo, executive vice president Ali Abdelaziz, lightweight title fighters Justin Gaethje and Rich Patishnock, women’s strawweight title fighters Jessica Aguilar and Alida Gray, and light heavyweight bruisers Anthony “Rumble” Johnson and Mike Kyle fielded questions from numerous MMA news sites regarding the upcoming WSOF 8: Gaethje vs. Patishnock that will go down on January 18th at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, FL.

Throughout the call, Abdelaziz assured those attending the call and those listening live at home that there would be a special announcement regarding the much talked-about challenge he and the organization issued organizational rival Bellator FChowever by the time the call ended, we were all left hanging.

“Something changed,” is all that the usually candid Abdelaziz offered via Twitter.

Gaethje, whose scheduled opponent has changed twice since he found out he’d be fighting for the promotion’s inaugural lightweight title, was respectful of Patishnock, a very late replacement who will be dropping to 155 lbs. for the first time in his career (he usually competes at 170 lbs.). Johnson and Kyle were mutually respectful as well, but when Kyle’s call dropped nearing the end of the call, “Rumble” didn’t hesitate to launch a barb at his opponent – who he originally was scheduled to face in the WSOF 7 headlining match.

“He ran away, y’all,” he joked. “He ran away.”

Aguilar, who is the #1-ranked strawweight in the world, answered some questions regarding her WMMA status in the wake of the UFC’s acquisition of nearly the entire Invicta FC strawweight talent pool for their upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Gray, her opponent (whose highlight Hendo-esque knockout over Soannia Tiem went viral two months ago), continued to embrace her role as the underdog while agreeing with Abdelaziz’s inference that their fight would not reach the final bell.

I believe firmly that, when you are in line for anything – groceries, carnival rides or, in this case, the chance to ask fighters and MMA bigwigs important pre-fight questions – it is important that you take your turn and promptly get the hell out of the way. There were a number of complaints about how long the call was, and yes, the call was rather lengthy. I do not, however, place the blame on anyone associated with the WSOF. While I waited to ask my two questions – both of which I was fortunately able to get in –  I heard some members of the media truly hog their turns, taking up twice the amount of decently acceptable time. It is a testament to the folks over at WSOF – the fighters, the execs and those behind the scenes keeping things running throughout – that we were able to get so many questions in.

But, for those to whom this applies: Please, take your turn and then allow others to do the same. Two questions max. Then get back in line. It’s only fair to everyone else.

My questions (appearing at 54:22):

JS: My first question is for Ali Abdelaziz and Ray Sefo – and this is not to take anything away from Rich Patishnock, who more than proved his worth and merit through his two victories over the Gracies – but Nick Newell – another undefeated lightweight on your roster, who really wasn’t that bumped up in his last fight at WSOF 7 that happened just last month – claims he wasn’t even offered the fight. Is there a reason for that? Are you guys kind of saving that for a future occasion?
AA: (Begins with a bit of a bad connection) We have nothing but love and respect for Nick Newell. He’s so talented. But this is a timing issue. I’m not taking anything away from Nick Newell, but I have a big fight for Nick Newell. I have 2014, I have probably the biggest fight of his life on that, on the biggest stage, and I’ve been planning for around, for almost seven months. Everything’s about timing. Nobody’s taking anything away from Nick Newell, but it’s a timing issue, you know…Gaethje was ready to fight in January and we can’t just have all the stars on one card. We need to be able to share all those stars on different cards and have a decent show every go, you know?
RS: Absolutely, obviously we do have big plans for Nick as well. I have nothing but good to say about Nick. He’s a great fighter, but on top of that, he just fought. For him to fight Justin Gaethje… he literally just fought last month. We do have big plans for Nick, and this year, this is the first card of 2014 and 2014 is going to be a great year for WSOF.
AA: Let me add on… you know, for all of you that don’t know Rich – he fought on the undercard – Rich will give Justin – I think Justin is an amazing fighter – he’s one of the best talents we have, him and Marlon (Moraes) and Anthony Johnson. Rich will give Justin a run for his money [next week], I guarantee you. It’s going to be one of the toughest, most brutal fights WSOF has put on. Stylistically, it’s a nightmare for both of them. Both of them are going to come out and fight a battle and [will be] injured and aching for weeks. This is one of those matches that is, stylistically, for the fans, and Rich is a tough, tough, tough opponent, and Justin’s a great fighter, and it’s going to be a great fight.
Oh yeah, I agree with you in that respect. I watched both of Rich’s previous fights and he’s an outstanding fighter and he’s going to give Gaethje quite a matchup. I think it’s probably going to be the fight of the night, in my opinion.
My next question is for Anthony (Johnson). This is in regards to if, in fact, you do re-sign. Sometime, down the line – another one of your stablemates over at Blackzilians, Tyrone Spong, was the other person used to be representative of your weight division in the Bellator vs. World Series of Fighting matchup card. Do you see, down the line, there perhaps being a situation where you may have to fight your teammate, and if in fact that does occur, is there any kind of plan that you have set in place for that?
AJ: Yeah, I’ll never fight him. Plain and simple. If it came down to it, we wouldn’t fight, no matter what. 

Here’s the conference call in its entirety.

Be sure to come back over the next few days for my exclusive interviews with Knockout of the Year Award-winner Derrick Mehmen and Cody Bollinger, who we last saw as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter Season 18. Both men will be competing at WSOF 8.

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Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well who still believes Mickey Rourke’s finest performance in film has yet to come. He is TuffGnarl.com's editor-in-chief, a feature staff writer for MMASucka.com and the 2014 MMA Media Correspondent winner at the Florida MMA Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.

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