News and notes from Rio
The UFC is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for UFC 142 on Saturday, featuring a main event featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, plus a co-main event middleweight bout between Vitor Belfort and Anthony Johnson.
While few are fortunate enough to be able to make the trip to Rio for the card, fortunately the good folks in the UFC’s public relations department were kind enough to pass along a few “postcards” from the trip – just to let us know all is well on the beach and make us a little envious.
Here, now, some behind-the-scenes news from UFC 142 in Rio:
Mendes plans an all-nighter
Chad Mendes arrived barely fazed by the 14-hour journey that brought him to the beaches of Rio. Accompanied by training partner and former UFC lightweight Justin Buchholz, the 26-year-old unbeaten wrestling standout from told local media he’s never been more prepared. “I train with some of the best guys in the world,” said Mendes, who planned to train early in the morning to prepare for Saturday’s 1 a.m. main card start time in Brazil. “Jose Aldo is the champion for a reason, but I’ve never been more ready in my life. Saturday can’t get here soon enough.”
‘Phenom’ fighting on home turf
Rio’s Vitor Belfort couldn’t be more excited to fight in his home town Saturday night. With the support of his countrymen and women, “The Phenom” expects to make a big statement when he collides with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson at the HSBC Arena. “It feels great to be fighting here, and I’m happy to welcome my friends from UFC to Rio,” said Belfort, who along with nutritionist Mike Dolce has been in Brazil for several weeks acclimating. “I spend a lot of time in Las Vegas training and preparing for fights, but Rio is my home. I’m so motivated for this fight.”
New heavyweight champ trades fight shorts for board shorts
Rain showers didn’t stop UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos from testing the waters at Barra de Tijuca beach in Rio. The 27-year-old champion joined kids from Rocinha Surf School at a surfing event. While the Brazilian superstar – recovering quickly from recent knee surgery – has ridden waves in the past, he stayed off the boards this time. Instead, he played in the water with the kids and posed for photos with UFC lightweight star Gray Maynard, as well as Octagon Girls Arianny Celeste and Chandella Powell. “My knee feels great and I’m already boxing and strength training,” dos Santos said. “It’s great to be a part of this event in Rio this week. The kids had a great time surfing and I loved being out there with them.”
Aldo turns to Maynard for Wrestling 101
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is taking his first fight in Brazil in nearly five years seriously. Already one of the most versatile fighters in the sport, the 25-year-old Rio resident has enlisted the help of former lightweight title challenger Gray Maynard to help improve his wrestling skills. Maynard, a standout wrestler at Michigan State University, was happy to oblige and has spent the last three weeks training with the champion at the Nova Uniao gym. “Rio has been a great experience,” Maynard said. “I’ve helped Aldo with his preparations and had the chance to train with guys like (UFC bantamweight) Renan Barao. I’ve learned so much from (Nova Uniao owner and renowned trainer André Pederneiras) ‘Dede.’ This has been an awesome experience.”
Canadian lightweight Sam Stout, who fights Thiago Tavares, traveled to Rio with featherweight star and close friend Mark Hominick. Hominick will corner Stout in Stout’s first fight since the passing of his late trainer and brother-in-law, Shawn Tompkins. Diego Brandao, who won Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in December, is in Rio participating in fan events. The 24-year-old says the past two months have been “amazing” and hopes to return to action soon.
– Text and photos courtesy UFC