Ayo Daly eyes finish to avoid home decision for Van Staden in Durban

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It is very much a case of out of the oven and into the fire for Team Ryano’s Ayo Daly tomorrow in South Africa. Having made his pro debut on March 14 with a decision win over Matas Stebuliauskas in Lithuania, Daly now eyes another big test away from home in ‘The Rainbow Nation’.

On 12 day’s notice, the man known as ‘Egyptian Cinnamon’ by his Ryano teammates stepped in as a last minute replacement to face Martin Van Staden after SBG’s Peter Queally was forced to pull out of a contest, which had definite title implications for EFC Worldwide’s 170 lbs strap.

Speaking from his hotel in Durban on Thursday, Daly is well aware of what is on the line for hometown favourite Van Staden heading into the 80kg catch weight bout.

“There’s been a bit of back and forth between Van Staden and the champion,” said Daly. “Van Staden was supposed to fight for a title before and the champion got injured. Then he had to fight Adam Speechly, the guy who beat Henry (Fadipe), and Speechly just kind of out grappled him and dominated him for three rounds.

“Van Staden kind of went on a losing streak then, it was during the time when Henry beat him and then after that he got injured. He was out for about a year and then in his last fight in Durban he won by KO, and now here he is potentially looking at a number one contender slot again.”

Being the underdog is something that Daly has gotten used to over the years. Edging closer to the catchweight clash, the Ryano man insisted that he was looking to spoil the party for Van Staden’s showcase in front of his hometown crowd.

“He’s taking a fight against another unexpected opponent that everyone expects him to beat. I’m 1-0, I don’t have experience, that’s what they think, but I’m looking forward to spoiling the party for a lot of people on Saturday.

“Every single fight I’ve had, I’ve always been the underdog. In my first pro fight I was the underdog. Nearly every opponent I’ve faced has had more experience that me. It will be the same on Saturday, but I know I’m going to perform to the best of my ability,” claimed the charismatic amateur champion.

Having visited South Africa in the past with his former Ryoshin Fight Team teammate Henry Fadipe, Daly is no stranger to EFC. Fadipe previously saw off Van Staden in September 2013 by picking him apart on the feet before finishing him with a straight-foot lock.

Van Staden is considered one of the deadliest strikers on the South African scene having claimed 10 out of 14 of his victories by KO. Despite this, Daly, a man known for his slick submission game, claimed he has no problem trading with Van Staden as he believes the people his opponent has rendered unconscious in the past have been “bums”.

He said: “Initially when I took the fight I was thinking that because Van Staden is a guy that’s had a few loses by submission, my best path to victory might be to submit him. The more I look at it, the guy’s Van Staden has knocked out all seem to be bums.

“If I had been fighting a load of lads in the back-arse of nowhere I’d be knocking people out as well. I’m training with high level, UFC fighters. These guys can take a punch. I certainly won’t be worried about trading with this guy. I just think I’m too well trained for this fella.

“I’ve had a great start to 2015 and I don’t see this guy stopping my momentum. He could get a sneaky hometown decision, I have to be aware of that but I think I’ll get the finish in either the first or second round.”

Just his second pro outing, Daly feels he has nothing to lose going into Saturday’s contest. However, highlighting the high level of the amateur sport in Ireland, Daly is confident that there will be no gulf in the ability stakes between him and Van Staden, a veteran of 21 pro fights.

“It’s pretty low risk for me because I’m just getting my feet wet at pro and with EFC. The amateur level in Ireland in really high, I can’t say it’s as good as the pro scene over here, but I know guys like Paul Lawrence and Tommy Hogan could come over here and have a load of success,” stated Daly.

“Irish MMA is raising the bar for the amateur sport in Europe. Our amateurs are on par with the likes of Brazil and America, and I think people will notice that when I’m in there with an established South African pro. You could put Irish MMA against any one else in the world and we will make a fight of it.”

Given that a victory for Queally or Van Staden would have resulted in a shot at EFC champion David Buirski’s belt, Daly commented on how he would feel about being thrust into title contention on the back of a win on Saturday.

“Who knows? I haven’t had that conversation with the EFC people I’ll take it one step at a time. I know what was on the line for Queally if he won, and I know what’s on the line for Van Staden too. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, I’ll have this fight and I’ll see how it goes from there.

“All I’m worried about is going out and putting on the best performance I can. I’m not going in putting too much importance on anything that will come from that, I just want to do my best. Maybe if I go out there and make a statement I could be propelled into a title shot. It’s not what I’m asking for, it’s not what I’m looking for, but if they offered it to me I couldn’t turn it down,” said Daly.

Signing a six-fight deal with EFC, Daly believes he is ready to take on all comers at 170 lbs. Speechly, the only man to claim victory over Daly’s good friend Henry Fadipe, is a man that Ayo thinks he matches up with particularly well under the banner.

“I’ve been looking at this whole division and I think I match up with them all fairly well. I’d love to get Speechly in my next fight because I remember how everybody spoke about how good at grappling he was. I think that’s a really good fight for me. He’s coming off a loss, I’ll be coming off a win after Saturday and I’d take that fight in a heartbeat.”

@PetesyCarroll

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