A near-finish in the opening round. A close call towards the end of the fight. But ultimately, in the first major MMA fight in well over a month, Ryan Spann got the job done.
At UFC 249 on Saturday, in the card-opening bout with Sam Alvey, Spann (18-5) picked up his eigth straight victory. It’s a stretch that predates even his Contender Series appearance — but should put him in position to move up in the sparse 205lb weight class.
Speaking to Cageside Press (via teleconference) following UFC 249, Spann reflected on a performance he’d earlier called a C+ showing, after conferring with his coach.
Early in the fight, it seemed like Spann might have Alvey caught in a standing arm-triangle. Instead, Alvey managed to weather the storm, resulting in some concern over how much the choke attempt took out of the Fortis MMA fighter.
For Spann, however, there were no worries. “Nothing at all. I work with the best strength and conditioning coach in the world, Mike Scaccia,” he told us. “There was a time where I would have let that go out of fear of burning my arms out. I even heard his team say ‘he’s going to burn his arms out.’ But I wasn’t worried. I was fine.”
Maybe not quite as fine after being tagged late in the third round. “I was just playing. I slipped. I don’t know. Something on the mat. A drop of water. A banana peel, or something,” Spann joked. Giving credit to his opponent, however, Spann went on the admit that “he caught me good.”
“He’s a veteran. A veteran like that, he’s always in the fight at any point. He just kind of showed why he’s been here as long as he has.” Spann isn’t kidding. Alvey has had 19 fights with the UFC since 2014.
After that C+ grade, what does Spann need to do to reach the next level? “Go out there, be me, have fun, don’t start so slow,” he suggested. “I started super slow. I just kind of kept that pace, and was in cruise control the whole time.”
Beyond that, “I didn’t necessarily get that job done, according to one of those judges,” said Spann. “We’re gonna have to talk. I lost that fight, according to one of them. I don’t like that, but I definitely have to go out and execute better.”
What comes next is another key question for Ryan Spann. He’s undefeated in the UFC, and has finished two of his four fights inside the octagon. Spann had been paired up with Paul Craig at the cancelled UFC London card, but that’s not a pairing he’s looking to rebook.
“We’re looking elsewhere. We’re moving onward and upward. That fight didn’t come through, and I mean, honestly that wasn’t even the original fight we were trying to get,” he explained. In fact, Spann was ever so briefly lined up for a fight with Ovince Saint Preux. That fight fell through, and Craig stepped up. Then that entire card evaporated.
OSP, meanwhile, is now taking a fight at heavyweight against Ben Rothwell.
“We’re trying to get a number. That’s my job, I want to be the best,” said Spann, who is now focused at fighting a ranked opponent. “I heard rumblings that me and Jon Jones have the [longest] active win streak in the division right now. So we’re looking onward and upward.”