“My Greatest Challenge Is Myself”
Speechly talks MMA’s wild ride ahead of EFC AFRICA 19
17 April 2013
Johannesburg (South Africa) - On Friday last week EFC AFRICA welterweight champion Michiel Opperman had to withdraw from his title fight with Martin ‘The Punisher’ Van Staden due to a hamstring tear. Perennial contender Adam ‘The Prodigy’ Speechly was offered the replacement spot and accepted, setting up a fight both similar and completely different to the initial challenge. In taking the fight Van Staden has potentially foregone his title shot. In taking the fight Speechly has once again catapulted himself into the title contention ranks. In exclusive interview Speechly delves into every aspect of the coming challenge.
CONGRATULATIONS ON EARNING A MAIN CARD SPOT AT EFC AFRICA 19! IS IT QUITE AN ADJUSTMENT TO MAKE THE MENTAL SHIFT ON SUCH SHORT NOTICE?
It was an obvious call for me, really. Martin is doing very well at the moment and we were likely to land up fighting one another at some point.
YOU’VE HAD AN INCREDIBLE RIDE OF LATE. YOU FOUGHT AN UNFORGETTABLE FIVE ROUND WAR AGAINST DALLAS JAKOBI AT EFC AFRICA 10, WHERE YOU LOST YOUR WELTERWEIGHT TITLE, IMMEDIATELY CHALLENGED COSTA IOANNOU FOR THE LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE AT EFC AFRICA 14, RAN THE CHAMP THE CLOSEST HE’S EVER BEEN TO A LOSS, AND NOW FIND YOURSELF BACK ON THE MAIN CARD AT EFC AFRICA 19, FIGHTING FOR A SPOT THAT PUTS YOU ALMOST STRAIGHT BACK INTO TITLE CONTENTION. CAN YOU COMMENT? WHAT’S THE RIDE BEEN LIKE?
Wow. It’s really been a very long but necessary journey for me. I believe things happen for a reason and I had to step back, take a long hard look at myself and figure out just what it is that I want from fighting (and life in general!). While both of those fights were hard on me mentally, they allowed me to see the bigger picture of myself and where it is I am going.
WE’VE HEARD YOU’VE FOUGHT MARTIN BEFORE, BUT HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE. HAVE YOU? WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?
Nope we have never faced each other in any format before, although I did face his brother Johan in a grappling competition early last year. It was a really great and challenging fight for me; we went at each other for a good 35 minutes!
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF MARTIN AS A FIGHTER AND AN OPPONENT?
Martin has been fighting for a very long time and is one of the more experienced fighters in the EFC. He competes because he enjoys it and always comes prepared to fight! He is a great opponent for me and will bring out the best in me for it.
YOU ARE KNOWN FOR YOUR GROUND GAME WHILE MARTIN IS CELEBRATED AS A STRIKER. CONSIDERING HIS DEMOLITION OF JADYSON COSTA, A FIGHTER SIMILAR TO YOU IN TERMS OF GROUND APTITUDE AND HIGH LEVEL STRIKING ABILITY, DOES HIS RENOWNED JAB AND STRAIGHT RIGHT HOLD ANY SIGNIFICANCE FOR YOU? WHAT WILL YOUR STRATEGY BE IN COUNTERING HIS STRIKING GAME?
I realise that I will need to be aware and alert at all times as Martin is capable of capitalising on any mistake. This is great as it will keep me on my toes and ready for anything!
IT’S BEEN SAID THAT YOU REPLACING MICHIEL MAKES A LOT OF SENSE AS YOU BOTH TRAIN IN THE SAME CAMP AND BOTH HAVE A SIMILAR STYLE. WOULD YOU AGREE? DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A SIMILAR CHALLENGE FOR MARTIN, IN TERMS OF WHAT HE’S BEEN TRAINING FOR IN TERMS OF MICHIEL?
Yes I definitely know that Martin's preparation will allow him to come in more than ready, but we are not the same fighter so there will definitely be differences.
MICHIEL IS OBVIOUSLY DEVASTATED TO BE MISSING HIS CHANCE TO COMPETE ON FRIDAY. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO SEE YOUR TEAMMATE DEALING WITH THE LOSS OF THE OPPORTUNITY, AND YOU STEPPING IN TO TAKE HIS PLACE?
As grateful as I am to have received this opportunity, it’s never nice to know that it comes at the expense of a teammate. When I discussed it with him he was insistent that I take it. We have a great team and I know that he will be back in action and ready to go in no time.
MARTIN HAS SAID THAT HE WANTED TO HURT MICHIEL, THAT THE FIGHT FOR HIM WAS ALMOST PERSONAL. WILL YOU, IN SOME WAY, BE FIGHTING FOR YOUR TRAINING PARTNER ON FRIDAY NIGHT?
This sport is my greatest passion, and regardless of the opponent I always go in there to give it my all and enjoy every moment of it. That will never change for me, but if anything it will serve to make the fight that much better!
DOES MARTIN HAVE EVERYTHING TO LOSE BY FIGHTING YOU? IF YOU WERE IN HIS POSITION, WOULD YOU TAKE THIS FIGHT?
Not everything, but definitely the title shot! He has been training hard and is eager for a fight. I can definitely see why he has chosen to take it.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFIC GOALS FOR THIS FIGHT, SOMETHING YOU’D LIKE TO ACHIEVE PERSONALLY, OTHER THAN SIMPLY THE VICTORY?
As I mentioned earlier, it’s to go in there and give it my all and enjoy every waking moment of it. But it is also to prove to myself that I am back on the right track and have learnt the lessons I was meant to, that I am ready to fight my fight again.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE IN THIS FIGHT?
To go in there, overcome my fears and immerse myself in the moment so that I may fight my fight and prove to myself that all my progress and improvements have once again put me where I am supposed to be. In other words, my greatest challenge is myself.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS FOR MARTIN?
I know that you’ll come prepared and bring your best. You know that you can expect nothing less from me. Let’s make it happen.
Adam would like to thank his coaches Peter Smith and Attila Barna, teammates from Smith's and CIT (you know who you guys are!), family, friends, sponsors (GRRANA energy) and supporters for their unwavering support, faith and belief in me.
EFC AFRICA 19, presented by MusclePharm, takes place at the Carnival City Big Top Arena on 19 April 2013. Tickets on sale at www.computicket.com and tickets for the live broadcast to Nu Metro Cinemas available now at www.numetro.com.
Broadcast information and full fight card available at efcafrica.com