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SPEER WANTS TO GET BACK TO THE “NEXT LEVEL”
Elgin’s Tommy Speer has been to the apex of the mixed martial arts universe.
Still green and learning the sport, Speer ascended all the way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, considered the top MMA organization in the world.
But a pair of losses against elite fighters — Mac Danzig and Anthony Johnson — set Speer back, and he was released from his UFC contract.
When Speer was released, his intention was to drop into the World Extreme Cagefighting organization, which is owned by the UFC. However, within a few weeks, the WEC announced it was cutting its 170-pound division, leaving Speer without a home.
Since then, Speer (12-5) has fought all over North America, including places like Canada, Virginia and Illinois. He’s rolled up five wins since he left the UFC, but a pair of losses to prospects Beau Baker and Ryan Ford left Speer pondering his future.
But now Speer knows what he wants. He’s dead set on making it back to the big time.
That trek officially begins Saturday, when Speer returns to action in Rochester against highly regarded Ashkan Morvari at Graham Arena.
Morvari figures to offer a significant challenge for “The Farmboy.” He’s ranked No. 3 by Minnesota MMA News at 155 pounds, though he’ll bump up to 170 to face Speer. Morvari trains with American Top Team of Savage, Minn., and has a collegiate wrestling background.
Though Morvari should offer a significant test, Speer is confident of his skills.
“Just knowing the trainer I have and how long I’ve been working at this, I feel like I have the edge; I have more ways to finish the fight,” Speer said. “I have a good scouting report on (Morvari). I know he’s going to want to make it a wrestling match. And I’m fine with that. I’m comfortable working on the ground. And I definitely feel my standup is better than his if he wants to keep it standing.”
Speer hopes a win over Morvari will be the first step in the right direction. He plans to remain very active for the rest of 2010, and he’s hoping to catch a big break in 2011.
“Honestly, getting back to the UFC would be great, but I don’t even care if it’s the UFC. I’d be just as happy with Strikeforce or one of the bigger promotions in Japan,” Speer said. “I really just want to keep pushing and make it to the top level I can get to, whatever that may be.”
Speer said his training is leading him in the right direction. He’s practicing two times a day at the Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
Roberto opened a new gym in northwest Rochester earlier this year, and it’s closer to Speer’s home outside of Elgin. That’s made getting to practices easier.
Roberto’s gym also recently added a strength and conditioning coach — Adam Rozmenoski.
“Mario’s new gym is great,” Speer said. “It’s made scheduling pretty easy for me. And I love going to practice now. This will be my second fight since the new gym opened. Everything is so organized there, plus it’s less than a 20-minute drive for me now.
“Adam has helped, too. He’s great. It’s like I have my own personal trainer, and I am definitely taking advantage of that.”
Speer could fight again in November, and his name already has been rumored as part of a mega card that is being co-promoted by Speer’s manager, Monte Cox, at Target Center on Dec. 11.
“I feel like I have everything I need in my life and training to make a go of it,” Speer said. “I want to get to the highest level, and hopefully I can keep on that path and make something big happen in 2011.”