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Speer jumps back on the horse Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Friday, 07 May 2010 17:56

Saturday night, Elgin's Tommy "The Farmboy" Speer is returning to the cage for the first time since suffering a first-round loss to Canada's Ryan Ford in March.

Speer is in the main event as part of "Gladiators," an 11-fight card sponsored by Kathy's Pub at Rochester's Graham Arena.

The Farmboy will settle some bad blood when he takes on former teammate Jeremy Lafferty, who brings a three-fight winning streak into the bout. Lafferty is one of the longest running members of Lake City-based Team Crazy. Speer (13-5) also got his start with Team Crazy, but now he's training at Mario Roberto Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rochester.

Speer trained exclusively in Rochester for this fight, and it looks like he may not return to the HIT Squad in Illinois. We caught up with Speer while he was preparing for his local grudge match against Lafferty.

Tommy, this is something I have to ask you about. You're the last fighter I ever thought would not make weight, but you didn't make 170 for the fight against Ford. So, what happened?

SPEER: Leading up to the fight, I was the biggest I've ever been while in shape. But I don't think that was the real reason I didn't make it. I think if I had cut weight the way I wanted to, I would have made it. But my trainers at HIT Squad, they wanted me to do it their way and cut all of the weight in the last 24 hours. So I was walking around at more than 200 pounds the week of the fight, and over 190 just a few days before. My way to cut is gradually cutting throughout the week, but they wanted it all to come off that last day. I still should have been able to do it. I thought it would come off a lot faster. I'm not sure if there was too much sodium in my body or what. But it was very painful and very traumatizing. It's the most uncomfortable I've ever felt in my entire life. I worked out for six straight hours, non-stop, with plastics on. I could smell myself I had sweat so much. I had to make 171, and I weighed in at 171.8. When I showed up that day, I weighed 172.5, so we quickly ran to a Gold's Gym in some mall there in Edmonton. I got in another steam room because there was no sauna to be found. I just couldn't sweat any more out.

Are you done training at HIT squad? Do you think you'll ever go back there?

SPEER: I won't say I'll never go back. But I do think that's the last time I'll go down there so close to a fight to prepare. I won't leave for a fight from there again. I wouldn't mind going down there to visit or like six weeks before a fight to maybe train for a little bit. But I just feel like I have what I need up here, and I'm much more comfortable up here.

Now that you've had a chance to step back and look at the video, is there anything you would do differently in that Ford fight?

SPEER: I don't know what I would have done differently during the fight itself. If I had known I was going to gas from that weight cut and have no strength, I guess maybe I would have not gone to the ground and just tried to knock him out in the first 30 seconds. But I felt decent after weigh-ins and leading up to the fight. Then right when I started and I grabbed a hold of him, I could feel my energy level was gone. Other than that, it's tough to say. I was able to get on top of him, but I just didn't feel like I had the strength to ground-and-pound. So I started going for submissions, and I actually had one sunk in pretty deep, too, a north-south choke that he somehow slipped out of.

You're fighting in Rochester again, which means fans will probably start chanting "Tom-my Spe-er, Tom-my Spe-er!!!!" before the first fight even starts Saturday night. Is fighting in Rochester still a thrill for you?

SPEER: Yeah, it always is. Plus, it's a lot easier. It's so much easier to get ready for a fight when I know how my day is going to go. I've done this so many times, and I know the routine. I know what I'm walking into and I know what to expect. I always fight my best when I get up in the morning, do some work, help milk the cows and then take off to get ready for the fight. I love fighting here, but I think I love being comfortable even more. The routine is great. It's so much better than showing up a day before the weigh-ins and sleeping in a hotel, then going to a venue that you've never seen before. It's nice to sleep in your own bed and know exactly what's going to happen.


You're fighting Team Crazy's Jeremy Lafferty. What do you know about him?

SPEER: I know he's probably got a better record as a street fighter. He's a brawler, but that's about it. When I first started out, I worked out with him a little bit, back before I got with Mario Roberto. Lafferty has nowhere near my strength. Judging by his grappling skills, well, let's just say I don't think he has any. The only thing he has is brawling strikes, a puncher's chance. He's never fought anybody close to my strength.

You and Lafferty used to train together. Is there legitimate bad blood there or is it just talk?

SPEER: Yeah, there is from him toward me. Here's the story, and it's funny. Me and some of my buddies were driving back from a night out at the bars in Rochester, and I was the designated driver that night so I wasn't drinking. I was with a bunch of buddies from Houston and Rushford, and we were like a mile from my house. And we are driving and there's a vehicle in front of us, and we have no idea who it is. But we knew they were drunk because they were swerving all over the place. So my buddies are telling me to flash my lights at them and try to get them to pull over, you know, to scare them. So I did it, and they pulled over, and then after we went past them, they came racing up behind us. So my buddy tells me to pull over, and the plan was for my buddies to all jump out of the car and go running toward their car to scare them. I pull over, and my buddies all get out, but I stay in the truck. My buddies run back there and it's an instant fight. This was maybe two winters ago. I got out once to look and see what was going on, and they're rolling around in the snow fighting. I look down and see who it is, and one of the guys is Lafferty, sure enough. I'm like, 'Oh no, I can't believe I know who this is.' So the fight gets done, and I'm just hoping none of my buddies mentions my name. But my buddies Squirrely and Slap roughed up Lafferty pretty good, and so they're arguing afterward. So I did get out of the truck, and I apologized to Lafferty. I mean, if I had known it was him, it wouldn't have happened. But I told him I was really sorry, and that night he accepted the apology, and we went on our way. Ever since then, he's been walking around saying he wants to fight me. Of course, he never says that to me. We've seen each other since then, and he never says anything. So I brought it to the show's attention that if they needed an opponent for me, that I know Lafferty wants to fight me. That's kind of the back story on the bad blood. I don't really have any for him, but I guess he has plenty for me.

Nice. Of course, there are a few people on the Minnesota MMA News message boards saying you're going to lose this fight. Why won't that happen?

SPEER: Because I'm way better than him. I don't think he's put enough time into training, and the numbers don't lie. Literally, if I didn't want to upset the crowd, I would go out there and beat him in 30 seconds, just to show how good he's not. I don't think he deserves to be in the cage with me. Whoever is posting that (on the message boards) is probably drunk or doesn't have a high-school diploma. The only chance he has for winning is a puncher's chance. If he came in there and took me down, well, I probably wouldn't try to even stop it because if he put me on my back, I'd be able to put him in a triangle or an armbar in a matter of seconds. If he wants to take me down, go ahead. If I take him down, it might take me a little longer to finish, but I don't see him wanting to grapple with me.

Knowing what you know about Lafferty, how much work have you done for this fight?

SPEER: I've kept a pretty good routine, running every morning, lifting and then getting in there and training with Mario Roberto. I haven't been doing a lot of the conditioning, a lot of the things that will make you want to take a break right after a fight. I said I didn't want to beat my body up too bad for this fight, and I wanted to be ready to fight again right after this. I told my manager that. I told him I would be ready to go again as soon as he found something for me. I'll look for a little more serious fight after this one.

How's the weight now and what are you fighting at on Saturday?

SPEER: They asked me, and I told them I didn't care what weight the fight was at. I said if he's at 185, that's fine. If he wanted to do it at 170, that's fine. So they ended up coming up with 175. I'm at 190 today (Monday). I know I'm fine at 190, because that's what I'd normally try to be at when I'm fighting at 170. Actually, normally I'd be at like 195 the Monday before the fight. But I don't ever want to come close again, not with the trauma I went through. I'm a huge 170. Maybe some day I'll go to 185, but I know I won't be the biggest guy at that weight. I'll still be a big fighter at that weight, but I'll have a reach disadvantage. At 170, I'm usually the strongest guy. The only time I wasn't bigger than my opponent was for Anthony Johnson.

Have you been training exclusively with Mario Roberto for this fight? And what do you think of his new gym?

SPEER: Yeah, I've been with Mario every day at his new gym, and it's great. That new gym is quite a comfy place to be. You want to go back there every day. There's so much space, a cage, plenty of mats and powerlifting stuff. Plus there's a bunch of cardio equipment, mountain-climbing machine and stuff like that. I love it. There's a full set of kettle bells, too. It's a great place to train, and I have everything I need there.

Do you have a game plan for this fight?

SPEER: No. We'll just see if he comes in and he's ready to strike. A lot of people are telling me he really wants this fight, and that he's supposedly said that he can't wait for Round 2. Well, I guess that means he's working on his cardio. I also heard someone say that Lafferty said that I may win the fight in the cage, but that he'll win the fight in the bar afterward. Well, that could be really tough for him to find me at the bar when he's in the hospital.