Speer not ready to ‘hang it up’

Elgin fighter talked about retirement after last fight

By Ben Pherson

Believe it or not, Tommy Speer’s last loss was so disheartening to the Elgin mixed martial artist, he seriously considered retiring from the fight game.

Immediately after losing to Beau Baker last Saturday, Speer granted an interview to a crew videotaping the fights for a local newspaper. In the interview, Speer hinted his career might have ended with the loss.


Speer said he came to a realization last Saturday that he can’t farm and train properly for mixed martial arts at the same time.

Speer has since backed off his statements, and he says he’s definitely not ready to retire at the age of 24.

"Not yet," Speer said. "I was just really down after the loss, and I thought (losing) was going to basically (ruin) my career. But (my manager) Monte (Cox) told me not to worry about it. He’s been really supportive and says the loss won’t be a big problem."

The loss did force Speer to reevaluate his training situation. He said he went into the fight against Baker, a former Division I wrestler, unprepared.

"I wasn’t wrestling enough," Speer said. "Just some intense wrestling practice might have been enough for me to win that fight. I haven’t had a wrestling practice since March, so I wasn’t even really comfortable shooting on him."

The Elgin-Millville graduate said he hopes to head to the Twin Cities this weekend to look at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, the training home of current UFC champion Brock Lesnar and former UFC champion Sean Sherk. If Speer likes what he sees at MMAA, he hopes to join the team and begin training there in the very near future.

"What I’d look to do is continue training with Mario (Roberto in Rochester) for now, and maybe head up to the Academy once a week," Speer said. "Then when I have a fight coming up, I will go up to the Cities and train at the Academy full-time, then come back and farm on the weekends. I know it’s going to be tough farming and fighting, but I’ll have to make sacrifices."

Speer said he never will fully give up farming, but he plans to adjust his schedule, in an attempt to train full-time in the winter months when his duties on the farm aren’t as laborious.


In the fight against Baker, Speer lost by majority decision, meaning two judges awarded the victory to Baker and one sided with Speer.

Asked if he thought he won the fight, Speer said Baker earned the decision.

"I’ll give it to him; I’m not going to take anything away from him," Speer said. "You never want it to go to the judges."

Though Speer said he will take a break from fighting and training for a few weeks to rest his body, he said he’s itching to get back in the cage.

"You always want to fight right away after a loss," Speer said. "I’d love to fight Baker again. At the same time, the holidays are coming, so I’ll probably slow down for a bit. It’s been really stressful farming and training, because you don’t have much sitting around time. It’s just a constant rush."

Speer won’t get much of a break; he’ll participate in a grappling match against fellow Minnesotan Brock Larson, who also trains at MMAA, on Saturday in St. Cloud. He won’t return to mixed martial arts action again this year, though. Speer hopes to return to the cage early in 2009.

"I don’t think it’s time for me to hang it up just quite yet," Speer said. "I love the competition, and I think I’d regret it for a long time if I quit now."

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