At UFC 281, Ryan Spann scored the biggest win of his career by knocking out former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes in just 80 seconds. But the knockout was only half the story of the evening, because after the victory, Spann showed that his performance was largely due to the fact that he was actually training for the fight for the first time.
For a 28-fight veteran who fought nine times in the octagon, this seemed utterly unbelievable to many. But Spann insists it’s true.
“[My coaches] want me to take it back,” Spann laughed, turning to Ariel Helwani. MMA time. “To tell the truth, it was my first full-fledged camp. I’ve been training before, against [Antonio Rogerio] Nogueira, I think I trained for this fight. There were a few fights that I might have prepared for. My first amateur title fight, I think I prepared for it, but it went on for about four weeks. But for the most part it’s a fat workout. I’m just trying to lose weight because I’m getting big.”
Spann joined the UFC in 2019 and has since gone 7-2 with five stoppage wins. More remarkably, six of his nine fights ended in the first round. He said some of this was intentional because he did not train properly and therefore focused on fast finishes, a decision that sometimes backfired.
Now, however, Superman believes he is ready to make a real leap up the division.
“I feel like I wasted a lot of my 20 years,” Spann said. “Yes, in sports terms, because I didn’t take it seriously enough. I knew how good I was, I knew how good I was. Everything has always been so easy. I was too immature to understand.
“My brother was always telling me, ‘You need to back up your skills with strength and endurance,’ and I’m like, ‘Why? I can hit a person in the head. Why stretch? And it’s just like a snowball from there. But now we have the situation under control.”
One thing Spann couldn’t control before UFC 281 was his weight; he gained 0.6 lbs over the 206 lbs limit against Reyes, which he says was the result of an illness that ruined the last stages of his weight loss.
“I have been sick for the last two weeks. I’m just getting better now. Now I sound even better. If you listen to me talking after the fight there, I was nasal. I kept trying to breathe. So I was just sick. I don’t know what was happening around. I had some sort of upper respiratory or sinus infection mixed with the flu or something. I don’t know what I had, but I was all screwed up. I couldn’t sit in the sauna… I had three or four pounds [to go] when I woke up and I just couldn’t stay there without throwing up. Slime and all. Everything was so dry or something, every time I went in there, I was probably there for five or six minutes, and then all of a sudden it started pounding. It was bad.”
Spann went on to say that he could still gain weight despite the failed sauna sessions if he had just cut his hair; however, when his coaches suggested it, Spann rejected the idea. In the end, the decision cost him, as Spann was fined 20 percent of his fight purse due to the missed weight and was ineligible for a performance bonus that, given his impressive knockout, could have netted him an additional $50,000. But Spann says he never even thought about it.
“To hell with it. My kids have never seen me without hair, and I’m not going to cut them like that, especially after doing all this work at the camp, ”Spann said. “I knew that I would not lose weight, so it was easier for me to understand why I lost it. So I just had to grit my teeth because I never cut them. It was never an option in my mind.
“It’s worth a lot more than [$50,000]. I never changed. I had it, I think I cut it once when my eldest son, who is now 10 years old, was a child. This is the last time I cut my hair. So, my kids, of whom I now have three, never saw a dad without hair, so I wasn’t going to hit on them. – Hey, surprise! If I decide to do it, it will be important, which I doubt.”
UFC 281 was the first time Spann lost weight in his career, and the light heavyweight contender says it’s unlikely to happen again as he intends to stay in fighting shape year-round rather than jump between camps in the future. This, according to Spann, will not only improve his training and preparation, but also allow him to be even more active, which is why Spann says that he and the UFC are already looking forward to the fight with the number seven. light heavyweight in the UFC ranking, Nikita Krylov.
“This will continue,” Spann said. “We are going to continue. We’re actually working on something right now. we are trying [No.] 7. I think I had to fight twice just to get to seven since they only got me up two after the previous seven got where I was. So we’re trying for seven.