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Ryan Spann once again finds himself at the gateway to the light heavyweight elite.
The Texas-based contender will face onetime Ultimate Fighting Championship title challenger Anthony Smith in the UFC Fight Night 192 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Spann has rattled off nine wins across his past 10 appearances. The 30-year-old last competed at UFC Fight Night 187, where he rebounded from a knockout loss to Johnny Walker and needed just 71 seconds to cut down Misha Cirkunov with punches on March 13. He holds a 5-1 record in the UFC.
As the imposing 6-foot-5 Spann approaches his critical confrontation with Smith, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He shares an alma mater with a champion from another sport.
Spann graduated from Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont, Texas—the same high school that produced Kendrick Perkins, who spent 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association with Boston, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Cleveland. Perkins won an NBA title and hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy with the Celtics in 2008.
2. Expertise and talent surround him.
“Superman” threw out his anchor at Fortis MMA in Dallas, where he trains under Sayif Saud and sharpens his skills alongside Alex Morono, Geoff Neal, Diego Ferreira, Damon Jackson and a host of other accomplished mixed martial artists.
3. He can climb mountains.
Spann remains one of only four men to have captured the Legacy Fighting Alliance light heavyweight championship. Julius Anglickas, Alex Polizzi and Fabio Cherant are the others. Spann laid claim to the 205-pound title on Jan. 26, 2018, when he punched out Alex Nicholson 4:24 into the first round of their LFA 32 co-main event.
4. Resolve has been an endearing trait.
The Memphis, Tennessee, native needed two appearances on Dana White’s Contender Series to procure an Ultimate Fighting Championship contract. Spann suffered an embarrassing 15-second knockout loss to Karl Roberson during Season 1 in 2017, then returned to the series a little less than a year later to score a 26-second submission against Emiliano Sordi and earn his spot on the UFC roster.
5. He follows a modus operandi on the mat.
Spann has delivered 11 of his 19 career victories by submission, and all 11 have involved the neck. He owns three wins by rear-naked choke and eight more by guillotine choke.
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