After a 470-day long absence, Flyweight champion Stephen ‘Astroboy’ Erceg will return to the cage at Eternal 73 in his hometown of Perth on February 11th.
Originally slated to appear on the 2022 season of Dana White’s Contender Series, visa issues resulted in his fight falling through, then further issues finding a fight on home soil has left Erceg without a fight since October of 2021.
“It’s been a bit frustrating, I had something that was coming up that was very exciting in the Contender then that all fell apart. I tried to get a fight last year straight after that and I couldn’t get anything there. I thought for a while I wasn’t going to get anything on [Eternal 73] either, so it’s been frustrating.” Erceg said.
Although frustrated, Erceg says he is unrattled by the loss of a contenders fight.
“I don’t know if you wanna call it lucky or unlucky but I’ve had few bumps in the road during my career as it is. The fight game is unpredictable, and you have to roll with the punches just like you would when you’re actually fighting,” he said.
“The best part of fighting for me in training, getting better. Trying to become the best athlete I can be. There’s never been any problems with me trying to be motivated to get to training.”
Erceg became Eternal Flyweight champion in 2020 when he submitted then-champ Shannon Ross in the first round of their bout at Eternal 53. Ross is a name which may be familiar to fight fans as he was awarded a contract to the UFC on the last season of Dana White’s Contender Series, alongside fellow Australian Jack Jenkins.
“You get an insight into the level of the competition, I’m very excited to watch [Ross] at UFC Perth and see how he does against another guy in the UFC and see his journey. It’s relatable, I know exactly how I did against him and to see how he does against other people, it’s like ‘what would my skillset look like against the person he’s fighting?’.”
Erceg will be stepping into the cage against Japanese fighter Soichiro Hiarai (4-1) who will be looking to make a statement over the Aussie. Erceg (9-1), who holds five stoppage victories, four by submission, says he is prepared for any way the fight could possibly go.
“If he wants to stay on the feet and get knocked out that’s his business, if he wants to shoot and get choked that’s up to him.”
The pair are slated as the co-main event for Eternal 73 at HBF stadium in Perth, taking place on Saturday the 11th of February, one day before UFC 284.