With the EFC Africa 14 fight night upon us we decided to interview Costa Ioannou about his lightweight title fight against Adam Speechly, his preparation and other various MMA things!
How many professional fights have you fought? And how many in the EFC?
I’ve had 7 fights, 4 of which have been in EFC AFRICA. I’m not sure if you can call the first 3 professional, but they weren’t amateur either. It was a different time in SA MMA.
What age did you start fighting and how did you get into MMA?
I’ve done various kinds of martial arts all my life. I got into MMA when I wanted to get more into boxing. A friend of mine, Tino, had been grappling for a while and we started MMA together.
Who are you sponsors?
NBM group, Ocean Basket, 8 Limbz, USN, Primo Executive Cars, Superbets.
What are your thoughts about the progression of EFC Africa? And where do you see it going?
It’s grown from strength to strength and doesn’t look to be slowing down. It’s giving exposure to the right people and it’s only a matter of time until it explodes tenfold.
What are your goals in MMA?
That’s a really hard question; I guess just to keep learning and bettering myself. I don’t really mind what I achieve as long as I become the best I can be.
How did this upcoming title fight come about?
EFC AFRICA put it together but I think it makes sense and that it will be my hardest fight yet and hardest for many fights to come.
How long have you been preparing for your fight against Speechly?
8 weeks, but that’s much shorter than I usually enjoy. Most fighters are happy with 8 weeks, I prefer more.
How have you been preparing physically and mentally for this fight?
Working really closely with my coaches and having support from my loved ones.
Do you think Speechly has any type of advantage from moving down from the Welterweight to the Lightweight division and having more fights under his belt?
I don’t think it’s the experience that gives him an edge but I will say he’s a cool, calm and collected individual. He’s not the type to buckle under pressure or show his nerves. He’s very well-rounded and a good match for me. I can’t see where he has any advantages but I don’t think he has many disadvantages either. As for coming down in weight, we’ll have to wait and see if that helps him. He hasn’t lost muscle to get to lightweight, just fat. I know he battled in terms of strength at welterweight.
Speechly is going to be a tough opponent! Have you had to change up any of your training to combat this?
No, I always train hard for any opponent. For the last 5 weeks I’ve put everything else aside to train full time and I’ve really felt my game come together.
What can the crowd expect from you on fight night?
Expect what they always expect, COSTA IS COMING!
What can Speechly expect from you on fight night?
Expect what he hopes not to expect, COSTA IS COMING!
How are you expecting the fight to turn out?
In the beginning I expected a 5 round back-and-forth fight, but this week I feeling like it’s going to be a first or second round finish. Not sure why, that’s just what I’m feeling.
You are the crowd favourite – why do you think that is?
Maybe because Adam lost his last fight and people have wrongfully lost their faith in him. I don’t like being the favourite or thinking about it too much.
What are the benefits of training with one of SA’s elite gyms, Fight Fit Militia?
I always know, no matter how I feel, that I’ll be super conditioned and ready for any event.
Before its time to step into the cage, do you watch the other fights or chill backstage?
Sometimes I watch a few, otherwise I sleep and relax. Usually when I get to the venue I take a nap for 2 or 3 hours, even if it’s just me lying there in the dark with my iPod.
What goes through your mind while you’re waiting to enter the cage?
Chef screaming at me. Most of the time I don’t even know what he shouts but whatever it is it switches me on.
Do you have any words for Speechly before the fight?
Adam, I think you’re a great guy and a great fighter, but on Friday I’m coming to finish you as quickly as possible. I hope we can have lunch together on Saturday.
Check out the Ioannou vs Speechly Fight Feature video below!