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There was some gamesmanship involved with Ryan Spann’s
decision to walk out to J.Cole’s “Middle Child” ahead of his UFC
Fight Night 187 co-main event bout against Misha
Cirkunov
.

“Tonight I walked out to ‘Middle Child’ and the significance behind
that song is the fact that there is three light heavyweights in
[Fortis MMA] right now: Kennedy
Nzechukwu
, myself and Alonzo
Menifield
,” Spann said.

“Kennedy just fought last week [at UFC 259], I just fought this
week. Shout out to Kennedy! I had to beat his time. I couldn’t let
him go out there and knock somebody out faster than I could, so now
Zo, it’s on you. Zo is in the week after the next and I’m the
middle one. That’s why I walked out to ‘Middle Child’, because I
have these guys on my back.”

Indeed Spann’s 71-second finish of Cirkunov arrived quicker than
Nzechukwu’s second-round knockout of Carlos
Ulberg
the previous weekend, and more importantly, it allowed
him to rebound from his own first-round KO loss to Johnny
Walker
this past September. In that bout, Spann floored Walker
twice in less than three minutes yet still managed to succumb to
strikes from his Brazilian opponent at the 2:43 mark of Round
1.

“I remember it all. When he fell the first time, I could just think
about how Johnny [Walker] dropped under me and I went under him,”
Spann said. “Somebody for the UFC was like, ‘Why did you follow him
down?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know what I was thinking.’ I just
remember all of that. I have a unique ability to go back and replay
my own moments in my life and different situations the way I
remember it the next time it comes around.”

When Spann dropped Cirkunov with a right hand early, he didn’t
empty the tank in pursuit of a finish. Instead, he unloaded some
ground-and-pound, allowed his foe to stand and hurt him again on
the feet before following him to the canvas to end the contest with
a barrage of hammerfists.

“I wanted to be in the moment, be present. I wanted to be able to
see everything, so I wanted to stay relaxed,” he said. “Today was
about laughing, joking and being relaxed. I was a little bit
nervous, wondering if it’s going to go like I think it’s going to
go and how it should go, which is me touching him.

“Basically, how it went. I knew when he went down we didn’t
necessarily want to play the jiu-jitsu game. I wasn’t scared of it,
like I’ve fought bigger grapplers so to speak. It’s not that I was
scared of it, I just wanted to be patient and I wanted to let it
come to me.”

With victories in five of his six UFC bouts, Spann is emerging as a
talent to watch in the light heavyweight division. “Superman” is
willing to take a five-round headlining bout if the opportunity
arises, but mostly he believes he deserves a highly-ranked opponent
for his next Octagon appearance.

“I like to think a performance like this puts me in that position,
but like I’ve said before, we are just kind of playing the game,”
Spann said. “I’m a realist so to speak, I knew I wasn’t in a
position before to call somebody out. When we scheduled this fight,
he was No. 10. I just beat that guy. I just stopped that guy. Now,
of course, let’s talk some numbers. I want single digits. I want to
catch up with Uriah [Hall] and a bunch of other people at my gym. I
don’t want to be the only one with a double-digit ranking. Give me
a single digit.”


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