At UFC 281, Ryan Spann secured the biggest win of his career, knocking out former light heavyweight title challenger Dominick Reyes in just 80 seconds. But the knockout was only half the story of the night, because after the win, Spann revealed that his performance came in large part thanks to this being the first time he truly trained for a fight.
For a 28-fight veteran, who’s fought nine times inside the octagon, that seemed highly improbable to many. But Spann says it is true.
“[My coaches] would like me to return it,” Spann said to Ariel Helwani, on The MMA Hour. “ It was actually my first complete camp. I’ve trained before, against [Antonio Rogerio] Nogueira, I think I trained for that fight. A few fights have I trained for. My first amateur title fight, I think I trained for that one, but that was still for about four weeks. It’s mostly fat training. I am just trying to lose weight, because I have a lot of fun.”
Spann joined the UFC in 2019 and has since amassed a 7-2 record with five stoppage wins. More notably, though, six of his nine fights have ended in the first round. Some of it is because he didn’t train properly, and was focusing on quick finishes. This can sometimes backfire.
Now, though, “Superman” believes he’s ready to make a real run up the division.
“I feel like I wasted a lot of my 20s,” Spann said. Athletically I did because it wasn’t something that I took seriously. I knew how good I am, I knew how good I was. It was so simple. I was just too immature to realize.
” My brother used to tell me that you need to have strength and conditioning to support your abilities. I would be like, “Why?” I can kick people in the head. It was a simple question of “Why stretch?” And things just sort of spiralled from there. It’s all under control, .”
One thing Spann didn’t have under control for UFC 281 was his weight; he came in . 6 pounds over the 206-pound limit for his fight with Reyes, which he said was a result of an illness that ruined the final stages of his weight cut.
” I’ve been sick for the last two weeks. Just now, I feel better. Even my voice is better. If you listen to me talk after the fight in there, I was nasally. The whole time, I tried to breath. So I was just sick. It’s not clear what I was experiencing. I had some kind of upper respiratory infection or sinus infection something, mixed with flu or something. I don’t know what I had, but I was all jacked 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 tolerate staying in there without throwing up. Mucus and all that stuff. It was all so dry. I could only stay in the room for about five to six minutes before I would start hacking at it. It was bad.”
Spann went on to say that it still may have been possible for him to make weight, despite the failed sauna sessions, had he simply cut his hair; however, when his coaches suggested it, Spann rebuffed the notion. In the end, that decision cost him as upon missing weight, Spann was fined 20 percent of his fight purse and was ineligible to win a Performance Bonus, which given his spectacular knockout, could have earned him an additional $50,000. But Spann says that was never even a thought for him.
“F*** that. “My kids never saw me with my hair,” Spann stated. It was easy for me to admit that I didn’t lose weight because I knew it would. Because I wasn’t cutting it, I had to take the plunge. It was never an option in my mind.
“It is worth much more than [$50,000]. It has never been changed. I’ve had it for, I think I cut it one time, when my oldest who is now 10 was a baby. That’s the last time I cut my hair. My children, which now number three, had never seen their daddy without his hair. I was not about to make a big deal of it. ‘Hey, surprise!’ It’s going to be a thing if I decide to do it, which I doubt I will.”
UFC 281 was the first time Spann has missed weight in his career and the light heavyweight contender says it’s not likely to happen again, as moving forward he intends to stay in fight shape year round, instead of ballooning up between camps. This will allow him to train and prepare better, and will make him more active. Spann also stated that he and UFC have already begun looking forward to a fight against the No. 7-ranked light heavyweight in the UFC rankings, Nikita Krylov.
“It’s going to keep rolling,” Spann said. We’ll keep moving. We’re actually working on something right now. We’re trying to [No.] 7. I’ve got to fight two times just to get to seven, I guess, since they only moved me up two after putting the previous seven where I was. We’re now trying to get seven.”