Top 15 flyweight Stephen Erceg has his eyes set on his next fight, calling for a match up with top 10 fighter Matt Schnell for UFC 293 in Sydney later this year.
‘I’m look at number eight, Matt Schnell is somebody that I wanna fight. He walked out a few fights ago to my walkout song and I can’t have that. So, we’re going to fight for the walkout song. Winner takes all.’ Erceg said.
This callout comes less than a week after Erceg’s UFC debut, where he defeated number ten in the world David Dvorak on eight days’ notice at UFC 289 in Vancouver.
Although confident in himself, coming in on short notice was something the Perth native was conscious of, not wanting to bite off more than he could chew in his UFC debut.
‘I didn’t want to go out there and be like some of those other guys where they’re fighting a guy they shouldn’t be in there with anyway, they put on a performance that’s way better than you expected, but they ultimately still lose. I wanted to be that guy to really put my stamp on the division straight away.’
Although aware of the risks, Erceg said that once he was in the cage, he wasn’t worried about feeling out of his depth.
‘I felt like I should’ve been in there…I knew I was on the level, and I proved that I was.’
Before getting to the cage, Erceg used the walkout as an opportunity to feed off the energy from the crowd,
‘Usually when I walk out, I don’t want to high five anybody, I don’t wanna look at anybody, I wanna walk into the cage, it’s like business only. But something about it was extra exciting, so people were hanging over the rafters trying to get high fives, I had to give some out, then walked in. I tried not to pay too much attention to Bruce Buffer but then I caught his ring and I thought “Man, how much does this guy make?” It was an exciting thing.’
‘I was thinking about it just before I walked out, it felt like you’re a gladiator or you’re in the Colosseum. In those moments you could understand why they did it. It’s a different feeling, it’s hard to explain.’
For Erceg it was all business as the fight began, Erceg saying it was a situation he was familiar with.
‘It felt like sparring. Another guy in front of you, you’re trying to figure him out. Another day at the office…it sinks in after the fight, during the fight you’re just trying to think about the next round, making sure you secure the next round, looking for the finish, that sort of stuff.’
Erceg’s performance earned him a $50,000 USD performance of the night bonus, which the Aussie said will be the first of many.
‘I’m really boring so I’m going to start paying off my house and that sort of stuff, wait for a few more bonuses down the line and then I can buy something more fancy like a Maserati or something.’
Erceg didn’t get a chance to hang around Canada for too long following his win and is already back home and training at his gym, Wilke’s MMA, in Perth. Erceg said that spirits in the gym are high following his successful UFC debut.
‘Everybody’s pretty pumped up, I think we had 10 people that immediately put their name down to fight. Everybody’s excited, they’re riding high. I’m excited to see Richie [Lockett] tonight on Dragon Fire [Boxing]. Two wins in the gym in one week, that’ll be great.’
Erceg will be in the crowd to support his teammate, a slight change of pace for the fighter, but a welcome one.
‘I won’t be cornering, my dad and my coach are cornering, I’ll be in the crowd making a fool of myself, drinking too much.’