The open workout featured middleweight champion Jake Shields and challenger Dan Henderson, who meet in the “Nashville” headliner, as well as lightweight title-holder Gilbert Melendez, Shinya Aoki, light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi, and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
Below are quotes and photos from the open workout:
“I am super excited about this fight and this opportunity to fight on CBS. This is a great show and I am happy to be part of it.
“Dan deserves a shot at my belt even though he’s fighting for the first time for STRIKEFORCE. I know he’ll come to fight. He’s a great fighter and we’re definitely going to put on a show April 17.
“I’m not thinking about future fights. People ask me about fighting different guys all the time. I do ultimately want to fight the best in the world because to be the best you have to fight the best. But I’m focused right now on Dan Henderson.
“I can’t believe how excited I am to be in this room with all these great fighters and champions. It’s going to be an amazing night in Nashville on CBS. I haven’t fought since July so I’ve been basically getting into shape to fight again.
“Everybody knows Jake Shields is a guy who likes to get guys on the ground and he wants to control everything. I have to be able to finish him off and not take him too lightly. I think it’s a good matchup for me with my wrestling background. I think Jake has a tendency to get overlooked and I’m not sure why.
“I am the challenger on April 17 and will walk into the cage first. It will feel a little strange. But Jake is the champion and I respect that. If he were standing right here I’d tell him that. We’ve hung out before in the past but once we get in the ring it’s all about business.
“I appreciate all the fan support and especially the ones who think I’m going to beat Jake up. People come up to me all the time and let me know they’re fans of mine. I love having the support of all my fans.
“One of the reasons why I left UFC was because I wanted to fight on CBS and possibly on SHOWTIME. It just motivates me in my training knowing I can come in and fight right away for a world title. CBS is definitely a bigger platform to fight on and the more people who watch the more exposure I’ll get as a fighter.”
“I feel great. I’ve been preparing for four months. I’m going to be in the best shape of my life. I’ve had different opponents with different strengths. His strength is wrestling so it’s not a challenge, but it’s another opponent.
“I get nervous. I try not to show it. In the cage I don’t feel that excited even if I win so it’s (usually) after the fight when I get excited.
“King Mo talks so much, he has made me very motivated. I’m hungrier to win this fight then he is. I’m more motivated to win this fight then any fight in my life. In the fight I cannot let emotions take control because (that leads to) mistakes. So it’s just motivation for me.
“He’s a good opponent, he’s a very good wrestler but I’m in good shape. I’m going to have to hurt him. That’s going to make me win the fight.”
MUHAMMED “KING MO” LAWAL
‘I’m a little bit new to all this so it’s exciting for me. I was down in Miami for the STRIKEFORCE fights and got to experience a little about what it’s all about. They had a great card there and exciting fights.
“I don’t think this fight will be boring. It won’t go five rounds either. I never stop training and feel like I can’t get in better shape. Look at the guys I’m training with — (Fabricio) Werdum, (Dean) Lister, Mayhem (Miller). I train with all the top guys and can’t be more prepared.
“Mousasi is a little bit boring. He needs to talk a little bit more – get the hype machine cranked up. This fight being on CBS doesn’t really concern me. It is so great, but I’d fight him in front of five people if I had to.”
“I don’t think you’ll be seeing 20-hit combos like me and Josh (Thomson) going out there but you’ll see some hard hitting, probably see a little more technical. This is probably going to be a lot more technical. It’s unbelievable that he’s coming to the U.S. to fight me. It says something about him, and he’s the biggest star in Japan. That shows some confidence. I’m happy about it.
“Aoki is the No. 2 fighter in the world and I think he’s an amazing mixed martial artist. I’m excited to fight the guy. That’s what he has on everybody — his ground game and submission. Am I prepared for it? I believe so. I have to be prepared for all his submissions.
“My biggest advantage in this fight is my stand up and my patience. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Aoki style. I’m just going to be patient and let it happen. I think I can knock this guy out in two rounds.
“I’m really happy to have this fight on CBS. Millions of people will be watching and, yeah, it definitely makes a difference. To me it’s a coming out party to display my skills to the world.”
“This fight is nothing special. I will fight as usual. I feel I’m representing DREAM and also Japan.”
“He’s a very aggressive fighter. He’s a good fighter representing the United States. It’s going to be a very quick fight, a quick submission or a quick knockout, but either way it’s going to be a personal fight.
“He’s a top-ranked fighter in the United States but I can take his pressure and I’m going to beat him and take back two world title belts to Japan.”
STRIKEFORCE: NASHVILLE OPEN WORKOUT PHOTOS
Photos courtesy Esther Lin/Strikeforce