Although Erceg (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) defeated short-notice opponent Alessandro Costa (13-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) by unanimous decision on Saturday’s prelims at Madison Square Garden, the performance left much to be desired during self-reflection.
“I’m happy I won,” Erceg told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a post-fight news conference. “I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s not the way I thought I would go out there and do it but that’s the fight game, right? I’ll take my lumps, take my wins. It is what it is.”
Initially the fight appeared to swing lopsidedly in Erceg’s favor. He displayed crisp boxing, strong grappling, great range, and good head movement. In Round 2, Costa turned the tables, however, and landed two hard rights that caused an off-balance Erceg to pull guard.
“Obviously, I didn’t want to get dropped,” Erceg said. “I was thinking I was going to work him on the shots and really outclass him. After I dropped him in the first round, I got too eager. As my dad said, I was trying to make it a man-battle instead of a thinking-battle. … I think it was me being bad, not him being good.”
Erceg was originally scheduled to fight promotion-ranked Matt Schnell (16-7 MMA, 6-5 UFC), who withdrew due to injury. Should that matchup be available next, Erceg seems to be open to a rebooking, considering he thinks Saturday’s test might prove more difficult.
“I still think Alessandro Costa was better than Schnell was going to be,” Erceg said. “I’m not saying Schnell is bad or anything. I just thought stylistically and everything, Costa was a worse matchup for me. I still think… I should be in the top 15 fighting top 15 opponents. I just have got to be better.”
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