Sunday, May 21, 2006

SPENCER FISHER ON FILE


Spencer Fisher – “The King” Looks to Crown WimanPosted by Aaron Rift on 05/19/2006 at 04:22 PMSpencer Fisher – “The King” Looks to Crown Wiman at UFC 60 By Thomas Gerbasi Spencer Fisher couldn’t even finish the can of Dr. Pepper in his hand. Seconds after receiving the call from manager Monte Cox in early March, the lightweight contender hung up the phone, put his soda down unfinished, and stepped on the scale. In two days, he had to find a way to drop 20 pounds and prepare to face Sam Stout on short notice at UFC 58. Two days, 20 pounds. Most fighters, especially ones who had just fought two weeks earlier, would have declined such an invitation. And understandably so. Not Fisher. “The cutting weight always sucks, but this is the only job that I’ve ever wanted, so when they offered me this fight, I was all over it,” said Fisher, who replaced the injured Kenny Florian against Stout.” Fisher, at 30, is one of those few lucky ones who has found his niche in life, grasped it with both hands and isn’t letting go. 18-2 in mixed martial arts, the North Carolina native made his UFC debut with a win over Thiago Alves last October, and he has no intentions of leaving. But there was still that issue of the 20 pounds. Debuting in the UFC as a 170-pound welterweight, Fisher was ecstatic when informed of the return of the 155-pound lightweight division at UFC 58. But after a first round submission win over Randy Hauer at a Battle at the Boardwalk show on February 17, he figured he had some time before jumping back into the Octagon at 155 pounds – hence the Dr. Pepper. But when opportunity knocked, Fisher answered and immediately got down to the torturous business of cutting weight. That entailed hitting the gym hard that very night, and making the most important call of this process, to conditioning guru Billy Rush, who has helped cut more pounds than a chain of Weight Watchers establishments. The next day, Fisher was on a plane to Las Vegas, and by the time of the weigh-in Fisher had dropped the 20 pounds and came in at the lightweight limit. He made it, as he makes sure to note “with the help of my teammates”. Now he just had to fight against Stout, a hard-hitting Canadian kid making his Octagon debut and just as eager as Fisher to stake his claim in the reinstated lightweight division. Needless to say, the resulting bout was a memorable one, with twists and turns and haymakers and flush bombs landing with thuds. It was everything you wanted in a fight and by the end of the furious three rounds, the result was up in the air. Fisher had tired from the drain of making weight, but he never stopped swinging. The same could be said of Stout, and when the verdict was rendered, it was a tight one, but the Canadian pulled it out via a split decision. There were truly no losers in the bout, but Fisher wasn’t happy with what he deemed “a poor performance.” Anyone who saw it would disagree, but when ‘The King’ steps back into the Octagon on May 27th against Matt Wiman, he vows to really put on a show. “I’m looking to get back in there and give everybody the Spencer Fisher that they want to see,” he said, but what he would really like is to get back in there with Stout. “I don’t want to make any excuses,” said the gracious Fisher. “Sam beat me. All I ask in return right now is that after his next fight, I’d like the winner. Sam won that night, whatever the reasons were, let the fans make that decision and I’ll move on.” It must be something in the water in the Miletich gym in Iowa, because these are the kinds of athletes produced by perhaps the most prolific team in the sport. They’re no nonsense fighters without the airs of superiority you can find from some in the game. They come to fight, they tell it like it is, and when the fight’s done, it’s done. They’re blue collar in the best possible way, and you don’t see that too often in any professional sport these days. “The group of guys we have here, we’re all so similar,” said Fisher. “Something made us fight – maybe we’re a little crazy, I don’t know. (Laughs) But we’re a no BS school. You come in there, personal things get pushed aside, you’re there to train, and that’s how it is. No soap opera, you get stuff done, and I think everybody walks that line in our gym.” It’s paid off for Fisher, who is finally able to dedicate his entire life to the sport and actually see a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of winning a title and eventually making this a lucrative career. Not bad for someone who once dreamed of making a career in pro wrestling. “As a kid I grew up watching professional wrestling and my heart was set on doing that,” he remembers. “Well, when I panned out to be 5-7 ½ I figured that dream was probably not gonna come true.” He can smile about it now, but when he started putting all his eggs in one basket regarding his pro fighting career, he went through the same trials, tribulations, and incessant questioning that a lot of fighters go through when they decide that this is their path in life. “When I first told my family that this is what I wanted to do, they were like, ‘come on, where is this fighting stuff gonna take you?’” said Fisher. “But my wife’s family was always asking ‘where’s this gonna take you?’ If I wholeheartedly drop everything else around and just go for this, where’s it gonna take me?” But once Fisher’s mug started appearing on TV and the wins started piling up, the weather changed a bit. “Now, my wife’s mother is a schoolteacher and she actually shows my fights to her students,” he laughs. “So I have a lot of support from my family. My wife goes to every one of my fights and she’s my training partner as well, and anybody will tell you that anybody in Miletich, male or female, if you’re part of the team, you’ll get there and bleed and sweat with the rest of us. And she does. She’s a big supporter, and we live and breathe it in this house. It’s our house, but we rent rooms out to fighters – (UFC contender) Josh Neer is my roommate; my daughters do armbars.” With that type of support, Fisher can put 100% into his fight game and the results have been obvious. And in addition to his success in the Octagon, Fisher has also gained quite a fan following, with message board threads constantly singing his praises and dubbing him a future champion. “For people to say that about me, that’s a dream come true,” said Fisher. “I remember when I first watched this stuff, I always said ‘hey, I could do that.’ And then as time went on I said ‘hey, I can be a champion at this.’ That’s all I ever wanted, for people to back me on it, and to see me accomplishing things and having people backing me is something I always wanted, and I’m just excited about it.” When it comes to that lightweight championship, Fisher is eager to bring the title back to Iowa and the same gym where the last UFC 155-pound champion, Jens Pulver, makes his home. “In my mind, Jens is still the champion,” said Fisher. “No one ever took the belt from him. But to step into that spot and take the world title, that’s my dream. Anybody who’s ever stepped into the Octagon, you’ve got to have a goal of being a world champion or they wouldn’t be fighting. At least I don’t think so. People say belts don’t matter, and they do and they don’t, but for me personally, when I fight, I want to fight to be the best. To have that title, and I honestly believe that I will eventually, it’s just a matter of time and I’m excited for it. This is what I was born to do. I’m sure everybody says that, but really, this is the only thing in my life that I’ve ever done that I was successful at.” And he’s only getting better. But there’s just one question that needs to be answered. Who’s the best fighter in the Fisher household, Spencer or his wife? “I’m on TV, but she’s the champion in our house.” How can you top that answer?
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