Johannesburg (South Africa) – Former welterweight champion Michiel Opperman faces former middleweight champion Jeremy ‘Pitbull’ Smith on Thursday May 01, in his first EFC AFRICA outing at the higher weight division. Two days out from this legendary clash, Opperman chats about his opponent, and the advantages of fighting heavier.
Take us through deciding to fight at middleweight. Was it a sudden decision, or had you been thinking about it for a while?
I had been considering it for a while. I have to cut a lot of weight to get down to welterweight, which does have an effect on my performance. I reckon it’s going to make a big difference come fight night.
So you think fighting heavier will up your performance?
I think so. I can eat a lot more during training camp and be more relaxed leading into the fight. No sauna or salt baths more me this time! Middle is more my natural weight. I will still have to cut a little bit, but not 10kg anymore.
Did you ever think you’d take on Smith? Was there ever the possibility of fighting him before EFC AFRICA?
No, never, which is awesome! I’m super exited to be taking on the challenge.
You’ve fought at many weights in the past. Will you be comfortable at middle?
I reckon so.
What’s your analysis of Smith’s style?
He has been around the block. He is a good fighter.
Where’s the best place to take him on? His only two losses have happened on the ground.
I’m going to fight my fight. It’s difficult to say where it will go. Both of us have strong points.
Smith has big power and loves his body shots. Is the clinch something you’d be looking to avoid?
Like I said previously it is very difficult to predict where it might go. If we end up in any position it is up to me to make it count in my favor.
What are you most excited for about this fight?
To fight! It is what I love to do.
I think if Dino keeps his wits about him, he’ll take it on points.
EFC AFRICA 29, presented by BetXchange.com, takes place on Thursday, 01 May 2014 at the Carnival City Big Top Arena, Johannesburg. Tickets are on sale now at www.computicket.com. Book your cinema ticket at www.sterkinekor.com. Watch the entire event live, from anywhere on the globe, via online streaming at efcworldwide.com/efc_africa_404.php.