The Bellator 131 press conference took place today live from Dave and Buster’s San Diego show room. There was a tense animosity between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar sitting at opposite sides of Scott Coker at the podium. King Mo broke the ice of the event by passing out candy to the fighters just days before they have to make weight. After an opening introduction by Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith, here are the media questions and fighter responses on Bellator 131.
Scott Coker: I tell you, it feels good to be back. I’d like to thank you for attending today’s press conference as well as really promoting this event. I’ve seen it everywhere, I think the staff, the media and Spike TV have done a great job and we’re looking forward to some big fights on Saturday night. Before we get to any questions with our athletes we’d like to thank Miller, Monster Energy, and Dave & Buster’s for sponsoring Bellator MMA. I’d also like to thank the Executive Director of the California State Athletic Commission, Andy Foster and his entire staff for working on this event. At this point I’d like to open up for questions so if you guys have some questions for the athletes or myself, let’s just open it up for the media.
Pasando Guardia: This is for yourself. Since you’re the captain of the ship now, what has been the biggest challenge so far with Bellator?
Scott Coker: When I came into Bellator I already had an amazing fight roster as you guys see here. We added a few top fighters to the roster and brought a few fighters back. But I think the biggest thing for me really was just getting back in gear from having a 3 year vacation to kicking right back to where I had left off with Strikeforce, which I think that we’ve accomplished here and then some. I think that was the biggest thing.
Inside MMA: First, Scott welcome back. You’ve promoted some of the biggest shows in the past. Where does this one rank with some of the events you did in Strikeforce?
Scott Coker: I mean, we did some big fights the past but you know what? This one feels feels very special. And if you look at the fighters up here, they’re all world class fighters. We’re going to see some amazing fights and the support that we get from Viacom and from Spike, they all love Bellator, they’re all here working away. You don’t see them but they’re all working away. The commitment behind Viacom, Spike and Bellator is unlike anything I’ve ever seen with any network that I’ve ever worked with.
Inside MMA: One quick question for Tito Ortiz. Tito, you made a comment that you had planted a spy in Stephan Bonnar’s camp. Can you name the spy and give us some details on that?
Ortiz: Well, I’m a huge fan of the book The Art of War. Bonnar thought he would go after all my training partners, my coach and my friends, well right back at him. He brought everybody in that, I know everything they’re gonna do. He has to have somebody replicate everything that I do and as far as having a spy, the spy’s already layed. Nobody’s telling me anything at all, I know everything. Bonnar wants to know how I fight? Watch my tapes. If he wants to know how to defend my takedowns, watch my takedowns. Paul’s [Paul Herrera] not going to tech him anything in 2 weeks, I know all these things. It’s not the fact of even spying, just the fact of being the art of war. And on Saturday night, it’s all b******* man. It’s all just going to come down to who wants it the most and who wants the fight. And it’s going to be me.
Bonnar: As far as the spy goes, that answer to me sounded like he was just talking out of his a**, which is actually located on his shoulders. It seems like every time he opens his mouth, crap comes out of it. So once again, a b******* lie.
Fox 5: This question is for Bonnar and Ortiz. I know San Diego’s really excited for you guys, how ready are you? The commercial that’s playing, was that all an act, Bonnar, or is that real?
Bonnar: I mean, I can’t believe people think we’re actually friends and think we sat down and scripted this. No, I can’t stand the guy. I think he’s a jerk and I think he’s a selfish prick and I think the fact that Paul Herrera did help me for this fight says a lot. He’s known Tito 25 years. He’s the one that got him into wrestling in high school, he was in his corner in his last fight. If that doesn’t tell you a lot, then I don’t know what does. It tells you that he has no loyalty to his friends. He’s all about himself and I don’t like that in a person. I’m not saying I’m perfect. I got my problems, I know that. But hey, my friends can count on me. He’s a selfish Jerk.
Ortiz: Loyalty to friends? When my training partners, my coaches leave somebody else for money? I think loyalty goes the other way. And I think it shows when you buy someone’s loyalty with money, it shows what type of friends they truly are. I’m glad I shaked my self of riddance of leeches. And the leeches are gone. I live my life in a positive manner, I’m ready for this fight, this guy’s talking out the side of his neck, so all you’re hearing is lies. And on Saturday night. I’m going to shut him up once and for all. Stephanie Bonnar will be my b****.
Media: For Joe Schilling. Joe, you’ve been in the middle of a fairly successful kickboxing career. What was it about this opportunity to fight Melvin under MMA rules that appealed to you?
Schilling: Well first of all, I think I’ve had one of the most successful kickboxing careers of any American ever. It’s an interesting fight for me. It’s a big show style-wise, a good matchup, why wouldn’t I want to take this fight?
Media: To follow up, I think fans are expecting fireworks out of this fight. Do you guys feel like you gotta kinda live up to those expectations?
Schilling: I think it’s just the styles that we both fight. People expect that because that’s how we fight, that’s how all of our fights are. I think that’s a pretty good assessment.
Manhoef: I think our styles are paired very good. He’s coming forward, I’m coming forward, so I think that fans will enjoy it. I think Scott did a great job.
NBC7 San Diego: I hear you guys talking, Stephan and Bonnar, and you guys don’t like each other. Ali and Frasier had a healthy disrespect for each other. They hated each other but they eventually got to the end of their lives and grew to love one another. So, two part question. What happened to cause all this? And two, do you see yourselves down the line in later years really reconciling?
Ortiz: No way, no possible way. This guy talked about my family, talked about my character. You want to talk about my character? Fine, everybody does that. You talked about my fans, no. This guy’s a scumbag. This guy is known for getting his ass whipped in the cage. Saturday night, we’re going to do it all over again. He says how bad and tough he is and how he’s gonna stuff my takedowns and stand up and “he’s gonna be bloody all over” Alright, cool. Hoop ha, I don’t give a s***. On Saturday night, I’m ready to fight and I hope he is.
Bonnar: Yeah, well you better destroy me buddy. You put a lot of pressure on yourself. Yeah, I’m a bum, I’m nothing. I’m not in your league, you better destroy me because when you see your punches have no effect on me, you’re going to know what time it is. And to answer your question, yeah I’m 80 years old and I’m in a geriatric home and I run into Tito, I’m kicking his ass.
Pasando Guardia: For Joe and Melvin, you guys know that you’re fighting a striker. What percentage of grappling did you guys train for this fight? If there was any.
Manhoef: For this fight, I didn’t train my grappling game. So, I think we’re gonna fight standing up. I think that would be nice.
Schilling: I trained for an MMA fight. I’m here for Bellator, this is the big leagues of MMA. I’m here to fight MMA. I train extensively on the ground, my wrestling, my jiu-jitsu. Melvin’s dangerous on the feet, I’m dangerous on my feet. It doesn’t sound like he’s going to be that dangerous on the ground. What would do?
Pasando Guardia: If you would get a submission, will it taste as well as a KO?
Schilling: A win in Bellator on a big show will taste just as good and I believe my contract pays the same amount for a stoppage whether it’s a submission or a knockout. It’s all gonna taste the same.
Jimmy Smith: I have a quick question for Michael Chandler and Will Brooks. I’ve known you guys for a long time and I’ve talked to both of you about how supremely confident you are about this fight. What has changed in your minds and your camps since your last fight?
Chandler: I’m just excited to compete again. Will Brooks came out great in the last fight, fought hard, fought a great fight. I didn’t and I’m not happy with my performance. And having a performance like that does nothing but fuel the fire and it makes you want to become a better man and better fighter. I truly believe I’m the best fighter there’s ever been. Same coaches, same training partners, I switched up my strength and conditioning a little bit. With that I’m a lot faster, more explosive and a lot stronger, so It’s just another opportunity to compete. Will’s a great opponent and Saturday night’s gonna be a good fight, so I hope everybody tunes in.
Jimmy Smith: Will, talking to you since the last fight, your confidence is sky high. Do you believe you are better than you ever were? What’s changed between that last fight and now to make this next performance so spectacular to you?
Brooks: I don’t think anything’s really changed. I think I’ve always been a person that’s always had a high level of confidence in myself. It’s just the way I’ve been raised. I think my coaching staff in the gym makes sure I’m always 100% ready for every fight. I don’t think anything has changed. I feel comfortable with my position in the cage and the process I’ve taken to evolve as a fighter. It’s been a big help getting comfortable in my own skin. That’s helped a lot as a fighter and as a person. Just being positive and do what I did in the last fight. Just try to polish up a few things and get better.
Scott Coker: I’d like to thank everyone for attending today. We’ll see you at the weigh-ins tomorrow night.