Prior to turning professional earlier this year, bantamweight prospect Emeka Ifekandu had a lengthy amateur career that saw him fight over a dozen times in the course of three years.
According to Ifekandu, his time in the amateur ranks proved a huge on his pro career, which itself has yielded three straight victories.
“It helped me a lot,” Ifekandu told MMAWeekly.com. “I didn’t know anything was done, so it was really great. The experience I had has paid off as a professional.
“It helped me decide whether or not I wanted to continue fighting. I lost some and I won some, but all that taught me something and it helped make me how I fight now.”
“As an amateur fighter I never had any wrestling training – none of the gyms I was at had a wrestling coach – so every fight I was afraid of being taken down,” said Ifekandu. “Because of that, my striking suffered.
“It was during that eight months (between amateur and turning pro) that I was able to do wrestling for the first time. It was a whole different ball game. Having confidence to fight anywhere has opened up my striking game and it has allowed me to get some knockouts under my name.”
Ifekandu (3-0) makes his return to the LFA for the first time since April to take on Steven Merrill (4-0) in a main card 135-pound bout on Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I’ve seen a couple videos on (Merrill), and I’ve seen his weaknesses and his strengths, and I think he’s going to be one of the easiest fights so far that I’m going to get,” Ifekandu said. “I think that it is a gift wrapped up for me.
“Just jab him, kick him, and punch him – box him – and I don’t think he’ll get out of the first round. Him being trouble for me? I don’t think so. As long as I don’t make any mistakes I should come out with a knockout in the first round.”
While he’s on his fourth fight of 2017, Ifekandu is in no mood to slow things down, as he wants to close out the year as actively as he can.
“I’m looking forward to an October fight with the LFA,” said Ifekandu. “I told my coach if I win this fight and I don’t have any injuries, I want to fight again in October, and if I win that fight, I want to fight again in December.”