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Dos Santos, Aldo, Belfort on Brazil, future and more


Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos was on hand with the stars of UFC 142 this week to talk about Saturday night's event in Rio de Janeiro, where Jose Aldo will defend the featherweight title against Chad Mendes.

Here's what Dos Santos, Aldo, Vitor Belfort and others had to say:

JUNIOR DOS SANTOS, UFC heavyweight champion


On being in Brazil this weekend and his break down of the main and co-main event:



“It feels so great to be with the fans in Rio. I’ve only been champion for a short time, but this feeling (of support) will never get old. I love it. This is the first big UFC event of the year and it’s very important for us in Brazil, the fans in America and people everywhere.”


“I think Aldo is one of the best and I expect him to get the knockout. Chad Mendes is tough; a great wrestler and very fit. But I think Aldo is amazing. He’s one of the best pound-for-pound (fighters) in the world.”



“Vitor is one of the true veterans of the sport and he’s done so much. Anthony Johnson should be dangerous at middleweight, but I expect Vitor’s experience to help him to victory.”




JOSE ALDO, UFC featherweight champion


On the turnout at the open workouts at Barr de Tijuca Beach:


“Wow! The way the fans were chanting my name, cheering, trying to get pictures with me, it was incredible. Everyone knows my story, how I grew up, and to make it to this type of stage feels great. Chad Mendes is a tough challenger, but this is the fight I’ve wanted for a long time. He’s the number one contender and I love the challenge.”




CHAD MENDES, No. 1 featherweight contender


On the positive reaction from the Brazilian fans at open workouts:


“I was surprised by how supportive the fans were. I didn’t expect to receive the cheers and I appreciated it. I think the fans realize how important this fight is for the featherweight division, for the UFC and for the sport. I’m ready to go and I know Jose is. I can’t wait to do this.”



On the constant comparisons to teammate Urijah Faber and his fight with Aldo:


“Urijah is my mentor and he’s played a key role in helping me develop a strategy for this fight. He knows where Jose is strong and where he’s not. But Urijah’s style and my style are completely different. He shoots a lot of single legs and has incredible speed. For me, I have an explosive style of wrestling that knocks guys off their feet. I don’t think Jose has fought anyone like me.”



On the height and reach advantage Aldo holds:


“We’ve worked on that in camp, particularly in getting ready for his striking. Without giving away too much strategy, I am really confident in my ability to take this fight where I want it. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for since I was a kid. A few years ago, I’d never fought outside of California. Saturday, I’m walking into the Octagon in Rio and I’m planning on leaving with the UFC featherweight title.”




VITOR BELFORT, UFC middleweight


On his mindset this week:


Man, I feel great. I’m relaxed, my weight is good, my preparations are coming together well. My next step might be determined already with (coaching) TUF Brasil, but I’m not looking past Anthony Johnson. Anthony is certainly a big fighter, but size isn’t everything. The king of the jungle is the lion, not the elephant.”






On his weight:


“I’m not on weight just yet, but it’s not going to be a problem. Everyone keeps saying how happy I look this week. It’s because I am. I’m already feeling good about middleweight. To fight Vitor here in Rio is big and I’m ready to make an even bigger impact at 185-pounds.”



On his new look at middleweight:


“At 170, I guess you can say I looked like ‘Skeletor.’ At middleweight, I guess you should call me ‘Big Foot.’ The move to middleweight has been great so far. I’m still eating healthy and getting my body ready. I mean, I still eat my gummy bears from time to time. They’re my weakness, but I haven’t had any in a long time.”




On fighting a talented jiu-jitsu practicioner:


“It’s always interesting fighting a jiu-jitsu black belt, but we don’t fight in Gis in UFC anymore. You can’t judge a black belt in the cage until the punches start flying.”



“I’m a new guy in this weight class trying to make a name for myself. Vitor has done a lot in this sport, but I’m not thinking about that. I’m thinking about beating this guy up.”



On the move to Florida and training with Rashad Evans:


“I train with Rashad every single day. He’s the guy I train with the most. It’s helped me a lot. Then, I’m working with guys like (kickboxing champion) Tyrone Spong and (former UFC contender) Jorge Santiago. It’s been the best thing for my career. The training down there has really helped me become a better fighter.”



On Belfort declaring himself “the lion”:


“Vitor says he’s the lion and I love it. Before my granddad passed, he told me to always look across the cage as if there was a lion staring at me. When Vitor said he was the lion, I loved it. It’s provided the type of motivation I’m looking for. I’m going to go out there and have a good time with this. I’m not scared of him. Let me fight the lion.”




SAM STOUT, UFC lightweight


On the expectation that jiu-jitsu ace Thiago Tavares will take the fight to the ground:


“Look, if he gets me to my back, I’m not going to just lay there. He’s going to have to work his ass off to keep me down. I don’t think he’ll want to stand with me, that’s for sure.”



“Being down here in Rio has been great. It’s humid and it’s been great for helping me cut the weight. I’ve been taking great jogs and enjoying everything down here.” 

On the loss of trainer Shawn Tompkins and how it may affect him on Saturday:


“Shawn gave me all the tools, I’ve just got to go out there and execute. I’ll have Mark Hominick in my corner on fight night and we’ll go out there and try to make Shawn proud. I’m here in Rio focused fully on the fight. I’m focused on going out there and using the tools that Shawn gave me over the years. He was such a great mentor and I was blessed to have him in my life. I realize that, so my mind is in a good spot.”




MIKE PYLE, UFC welterweight


On fighting Ricardo Funch:


“From what I’ve seen, he’s tough. He may wanna try a little jiu-jitsu with me, which is fine. A lot of guys say that they’re ready for whatever is thrown at them, but I really mean it. Coming off a loss in my last fight, I wanted to get back in the gym and get better.

I knew I had to make some changes. I had to construct a good game plan and focus on improving myself all around. I had three wins in a row and then that loss came. So as a fighter, I had to take hard look and really focus on myself.”


“Bottom line, is I wanted some different looks, some different training. I wanted to rejuvenate myself and get that firing going inside of me again. This fight is important for me. It’s important that I bring a win back to Vegas.”






“First, it’s great to finally be here in the UFC. Somehow, everything’s fallen into place. I’ve had some really great training partners and I feel really good right now. The fans here probably don’t know me very well and they won’t know what to expect, but I’m hoping to win them over on Saturday night.”


“On fight night, it’s all on me. I’ve done professional kickboxing bouts and I’m confident in my grappling. Wherever the fight goes, I’ll be ready. If I choose to keep the fight standing, I’ll need to make sure to keep the distance. But I know one thing: I’m going out there to win. I’ll go down swinging if I have to.”