There are all different personalities throughout the MMA world. From those who fight to be artists to those who do it to inflict pain. Those who love slinging trash talk to the more reserved. But try as you might, you are unlikely to find anyone as upbeat and positive as UFC Vegas 5’s Eric Spicely.
After winning two of his first three flights in the UFC, including a submission win over title challenger Thiago Santos, Spicely went on a three-fight losing streak dropping bouts to Antonio Carlos Junior, Gerald Meerscahert and Darren Stewart. The last of the three losses saw the UFC hand him his walking papers. Although that is a crippling moment for so many, Spicely kept that positive outlook.
“I think some people get cut and they kind of just give up and let it get them down,” said Spicely, noting that although he had some negative thoughts, they never took over his actions. “I was like ‘sh*t, I don’t know if I should get a job and move back to the States and kind of quit fighting and leave it all behind.’ I was running low on money and I couldn’t work [due to living in Canada without a visa].”
Even his best of friends were telling him that it didn’t make sense for him to keep training. Although he picked up a pair of victories in CES MMA, Spicely’s buddies were telling him that it may be the end. Spicely, of course, didn’t agree.
“My friends were all telling me, ‘just come back, the dream is over,” he recalled. “I just got to keep at it and yeah luckily it worked out. I kept in training shape, I was ready on six days notice when they called me and the rest is history.”
Spicely returned to the UFC back in June. When pressed as to why he decided to ignore those closest to him and continue chasing the career he wanted, the reason is really clear – he felt like he had more to give to MMA.
“I knew that I had a lot more to give. I have a lot of regrets especially after the Alessio Di Chirico fight,” he said, his voice still not flickering from his happy-go-lucky tone. “I made a lot of mistakes either with training or with people I was surrounding myself with — just letting my personal life impact my career.”
As a further example of why he knew to keep going, he points to his good friend Joe Duffy, who recently decided to hang them up himself. Duffy, following a loss to Joel Alvarez, could feel that it was over, and that was just not a feeling Spicely has ever had.
“One of my best friends in the whole world Joe Duffy retired last week. He’s said ‘look, I’m at peace with it. I gave it my all, I really tried as hard as I could. I can honestly say I just don’t have it anymore.’ And that’s not how I felt when I got released,” he said. “I accomplished all these things. I beat Thiago Santos, I beat these other guys, I was ranked 16th or 17th in the world. I know what I’m capable of, and I didn’t give that in my last three fights.”
Now, he hopes to use that first UFC stint as a learning experience. With a better approach to the game, but an equally upbeat outlook, Spicely looks to make this chance count,
“I can use that as a learning example and hopefully you get another chance at the game,” he said. “Luckily I did.”
Spicely will look to use that lesson against Markus Perez at UFC Vegas 5 this Saturday as part of the ESPN+ prelims.