It only took a few seconds for Lumumba Sayers to reverse his fortune in his fight against Scott Smith at last Saturday’s Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey event in Columbus, Ohio.
Early in the first round of the fight, Sayers found himself in the midst of a guillotine choke attempt, but as he told MMAWeekly.com, he was ready for that situation and turned it towards his favor.
“My wrestling coach basically prepared me for that; you get in the choke, push out on the edge and just get your head up in there,” said Sayers. “When (Smith) put his arms around my neck, he felt real light, like a baby, and I’d done that move before in my amateur career, so I was like, ‘I’m going to take this dude backwards.’”
From there, Sayers picked Smith up and did indeed slam him backwards on the mat, setting up for the eventual finish.
“If you watch the video, I was trying to catch his leg and spin with him in the air, but I missed his leg because he was lighter than I thought,” said Sayers. “When we hit the ground, I was like, ‘this dude is trying to hold on tight.’ Because he knew once I got on top of him, it was going to be over.”
Sayers was able to get free of Smith’s grip, and while the two were getting up, managed to lock on a choke of his own, finishing the fight.
Many observers feel that a win over a well-known opponent on a main Strikeforce card is a big step forward for Sayers, but don’t tell him that.
“People were telling me that after that I was climbing the ladder, but I feel like I’m still trying to climb out of the pile,” said Sayers. “With me, I don’t think that I beat Scott Smith and I’m a great fighter and this and that… I don’t really get into the hype of what people say, because that’s when you start to lose your way.
“You start getting this bad attitude of where, ‘I fight on TV and people look at me, so I’m a tough guy.’ Nah, I’m going to stay away from that. I’m going to stay the regular ole Lumumba that’s going to live the same life I have been living and go from there.”
With a middleweight division in need of contenders for champion Luke Rockhold, Sayers’ shot could come sooner rather than later, but again, that’s not what he’s focused on yet.
“I haven’t even thought about a title shot or any of that,” he said. “When (Strikeforce matchmaker) Sean Shelby and Ricky (Vasquez, Sayers’ manager) feel like it’s time for me to get a title shot against whoever has the title, then we’ll move forward.
“Until then I’ll keep slashing away at the opponents they put in front of me. Luke Rockhold is not a goal of mine, until he’s put down as an opponent of mine. Whoever they put in front of me next, I’m going to take the exact amount of time I did for Scott Smith, and just get prepared for them.”
Sayers concluded, “I feel like I’ve got to go out there and fight for my life every time I get in that cage. That’s what they can expect from me, a real live fight. I’m not pulling any punches, I’m not holding anything back – I’m coming to fight.”