Eric Spicely Recognizes His Back is Up Against the Wall at UFC Liverpool
It’s no secret to anyone who’s be following along with the UFC‘s middleweight division that Sunday’s clash in Liverpool between Eric Spicely (10-3, 2-3 UFC) and Darren Stewart (7-3 1NC, 0-3 1NC UFC) is a pivotal matchup. Entering the bout on losing streaks, both men have their backs up against the proverbial wall.
New England’s Spicely is realistic. He recognizes what is at stake more than anyone. The 31-year-old believes the matchup is unequivocally a classic “loser go home” situation. Regardless of the situation, Spicely isn’t trying to put too much pressure on himself.
“Every fight is a must win,” begins Spicely. “You can get cut after one loss. You can get cut after three losses or four losses. It’s the last fight on my contract [though], so this is one hundred percent must win, but I’m not really letting that get to me. I actually perform better in those types of situations.”
“Zebrinha” presumes his opponent, Stewart, feels the same way. Stewart has gone winless through four fights in the UFC, most recently losing to Spicely’s training partner and friend, Julian Marquez.
“He’s 0-3 with one no contest,” explains Spicely. “We both know whoever loses this fight is getting cut.”
“He’s fighting in his home country,” continues Spicely. “He doesn’t want to lose. So I think it’s going to make for a really good fight. It’s not going to be a conservative performance.”
Stewart and Spicely have crossed paths in the past, so neither are exactly strangers to the other’s game.
“He actually had come to Tristar a couple time– not actually a part of the team or anything, but he had been there just passing through,” recalls Spicely. “I’m very familiar with him, his game, and what kind of challenges he presents.”
In the past, the BJJ black belt had split camp among a handful of gyms. However, in preparation for this bout at UFC Liverpool, Spicely has done his entire camp at Tristar MMA in Montreal, Quebec.
“It feels really good to be back,” says Spicely. “Tristar for me is definitely my home. Montreal is one of my favorite cities on this planet. It’s just a special place for me, and I’ve been to a lot of places.”
After winning two of his first three UFC bouts, Spicely is riding a two fight losing streak entering Sunday’s affair. Spicely knows mistakes were made inside the cage in those two bouts, but also believes more were made in the training preparations for them. Such issues have cleared up and Spicely is confident he partook in a victorious training camp this time around.
“It’s been one of the best camps I’ve ever had,” describes Spicely. “It feels like one of the other camps I’ve had [like] when I fought Thiago Santos and Alessio [Di Chirico]. It feels like old times again.”
There are a number of UFC fighters who call Tristar MMA their home. In fact, UFC Liverpool features at least a half dozen of these fighters including Spicely and two of his main training partners for this camp, Elias Theodorou and Nordine Taleb.
Spicely’s main training partner for this camp, actually isn’t even in the UFC at the moment. Undefeated lightweight Mandel Nallo is considered by many who are “in the know” to be Tristar’s secret weapon. Spicely couldn’t speak higher of the 28-year-old, who is currently a member of the Bellator MMA roster.
“[Nallo] is one of my best training partners who has helped me a ton,” says Spicely. “He’s a really, really phenomenal fighter. He could easily be the champion in most organizations. He’s a freak of nature– at 155, he’s huge. He’d give a lot of people a lot of problems.”
Looking at the matchup in front of him, Spicely knows Stewart isn’t an easy outing.
“He’s wild and he likes to brawl,” says Spicely. “He’s tough, will take a beating, and won’t stop coming forward.”
Spicely believes he has a mental advantage over Stewart, but also recognizes that no matter how much smarter he is, he has to watch out for Stewart’s physical tools.
“I think I have a better fight IQ than he does,” says Spicely. “But I could easily get caught with something big, if I’m not one hundred percent on point. That’s the kind of challenge that I like. I like fights like that.”
“I have a prediction on how the fight is going to end–but I’m going to keep that to myself,” says Spicely. “Win or lose, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a boring fight. I either finish or get finished, and the same with him. It’s going to be a great fight for the crowd.”
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