The conference call featured WSOF president Ray Sefo, along with headliners Andrei Arlovski (19-10) and Mike Kyle (20-9-1). The other participants of the call included middleweight tournament contenders David Branch (12-3) who takes on Danillo "Indio" Villefort (14-4) and Elvis "The King" Mutapcic (13-2) who will be fighting Jesse "JT Money" Taylor, as well as a heavyweights Rolles Gracie (8-1) and his opponent Derrick "Caveman" Mehmen (15-5) and featherweights Georgi Karakhanyan (21-3-1) who will battle Waylon Lowe (14-4), who was unable to attend the call.
The prelims feature an additional 5 bouts, which also include matchups between Gregor Gracie (7-3) vs. Rich Patishnock (5-1) and Neiman Gracie (0-0) vs. Darren Costa (0-1) streams on World Series of Fighting's official website, WSOF.com, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
Tickets for World Series of Fighting 5 start at $29 and are currently on sale at all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com and charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000.
The following are fighter highlights from the conference call:
It's going to be an interesting match for myself and my fans and I'm looking forward to fighting this Saturday.
I'm very excited about this fight, I've been training hard even during the 6-8 weeks when my jaw was wired. During that time I did a lot of cardio stuff and a lot of technique stuff and I'm really excited about Mike. I think he's a good match for me.
Mike Kyle has a big mouth. He said he's going to knock me out.
This is one of my biggest opportunities. I feel great. I'm coming off a great win, a knockout over Travis Wiuff. ... I'm starting to feel comfortable in the ring again, and I'm really excited to go out there and perform and put on the show that I'm capable of doing.
(You were originally expected to face Anthony Johnson. Is that a fight you still want?)
I like that fight, definitely. I don't think there are too many fights I'm not interested in. But yeah, I'd definitely love to fight Anthony Johnson. I'd love to fight Tyrone Sponge. I like those guys. They're good, straight strikers, and it makes for a good fight. I'm sure the fans would love to see that fight. But as of now, all I'm trying to think about is Arlovski. I don't want to look past him. He's a very tough opponent. He's known to knock people out, and he's coming from a great camp, as well, with Greg Jackson, so I'm looking forward to this fight, and I'm trying to look past this fight.
(How do you plan on avoiding his power?)
I plan on having better footwork, and I plan on hitting him first.
(What does it feel like to be a part of World Series of Fighting?)
It's really awesome. I've been traveling all over the world, and it's been real cool seeing new places and fighting all sorts of people. But it's real nice to have a home. It's a reputable organization, the WSOF. I'm back in the States and can get some good exposure, where I can show my skills off. I'm just really excited to be back in a good, big show.
(Would you consider a possible move back down to welterweight at some point?)
I really got comfortable back at middleweight. I kind of grew a little bit, too, so I think middleweight is a good weight for me. But I'm all about big fights, and I have thought about there are definitely some big names down at welterweight that I would love to get my hands on. But I've just got to take care of business first. I can't look past Elvis. He's a really tough and game opponent, so I'm just really concentrated on him, and then we'll see what happens after that fight and with the whole tournament. We'll see what happens down the road.
(What's the transition like from Canada to the World Series of Fighting?)
I think to keep me motivated, I've got to keep stepping up the competition. I keep fighting guys that are better than the previous guys I fought, so that keeps me motivated. Two, I'm really glad to be back in a cage. I thought I'd like the ring, but the ring has proven not to work for me. World Series is a great sport for up-and-coming fighters, and I just feel they've got a lot of hungry guys. They're going to great in their careers there, and I'm just glad to be a part of it.
I'm trying to make a living in this. I'm not trying to do this as a hobby. A belt is nice, but I'm getting an opportunity to get a different, better belt.
(Should you be considered the tournament favorite?)
I don't think I should be given any favoritism. All of the guys in the tournament are proven fighters. They're veterans. They've been around the block. We've just got to get in there and get it done. That's it. I don't like to have any favoritism. I was on the first fight in the WSOF, and I definitely want to be the first champ of the middleweight division, but at the same time, I've got some tough opposition against me, and I've been getting ready for it properly. We'll just get it done.
(When facing another Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, are you interested in proving your submission skills or just picking up a win?)
Every fight is a different fight. David Branch, he comes from a very great gym. Renzo Gracie is a great coach and a great professional. But my family has been in the business since 1957. My whole entire family has been fighting, and I believe in my pedigree. I have no fear to go to the ground with my opponent. I'm not saying I'm going to tap or finish him, but wherever he takes it, I'm ready. I like to fight not just on the ground. I like to strike, too, so let's see what game he wants to do. I'll be ready for it.
(How do you feel ahead of the fight?)
I'm feeling great for this fight. Derrick is definitely a tough opponent. I can't take him lightly. I'm really looking forward to this fight. I don't know what's going to happen in the fight. I can say, 'I wish this,' or, 'I wish that,' but it's only once you step in the cage that you know what's going to happen. So I'm ready to do whatever it takes. Whatever it comes down to in the cage, I'm ready and prepared for it. I feel a lot more experienced and a lot more ready for it.
(This is a special night for the Gracie family. What does it mean for you all to still be featured so prominently?)
We are very excited to be a part of this. We're really thankful to World Series of Fighting for making such an event and making this opportunity happen for all of us. It was great to not only have my brother and my cousin on the card but David Branch and my other teammates on the card. We all trained together. We got to improve together. We got to push each other forward and make ourselves better. It was an amazing, amazing training camp for all of us, and I'm really looking forward to Saturday night.
(You're the underdog here, so are you hoping to shock the world?)
I guess you could say that. I fee like he has a lot of expectations on him. Maybe that gives him a little extra pressure. I have no expectations on me, but I feel it's a great matchup for me, a great fight.
(Why did you move back to heavyweight? Is this switch permanent?)
It's a permanent switch. I had been thinking about it before Strikeforce really, moving to heavyweight. This seemed like a great opportunity to move to heavyweight right now.
As a fighter, it's very important because fighting is how I feed myself and my family. It's great to have a home like World Series of Fighting. A couple of organizations opened up their eyes and wanted to sign me. I don't want to talk about the rest of the organizations, but I'm just happy that I finally landed somewhere where I can get to compete.
He has a powerful left hand. I'm not going to go in there and underestimate him and think he's going to just wrestle me. I'm going to go in there prepared no matter what he's going to want to do to me if it's wrestling or it's standup. I prefer to keep the fight standing and kick the shit out of him and throw a couple of knees, but if he tries to outwrestle me, then I'll break my wrestling out and grind out a decision win over him.