Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight strikers Walt Harris and Daniel Spitz will battle this Friday (June 1, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 131 inside Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, New York.
This is a classic Heavyweight battle of a fighter yet to live up to expectations and one who overachieves through toughness and will. Harris is the former, a college basketball player with impressive athleticism who bounced back from a really rough start to his UFC career to pick up some wins, but remains inconsistent. On the other side of the equation is “Daddy Long Legs,” a lanky kickboxer who flattened Anthony Hamilton in 24 seconds last time out.
With any luck, the fight won’t last very long, but let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each athlete:
Key Wins: Chase Sherman (UFC Fight Night 103), Cyril Asker (UFC Fight Night 111), Cody East (UFC 197)
Key Losses: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 216), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 96), Nikita Krylov (UFC on FOX 10)
Keys to Victory: Harris is a big, powerful Heavyweight with a rangy striking game. Occasionally, he’ll stand around and wait a bit too much, but when Harris explodes forward or commits to a counter, he’s very dangerous.
All 10 of Harris’ victories came via knockout.
This is an unusual situation for Harris, as the former basketball player usually holds a clear advantage in height and reach. He’ll be at very slight disadvantages this time around, which does increase the risk of Harris getting stuck at the end of Spitz’s strikes, unable to land anything too significant.
Luckily, Harris’ is significantly faster and more powerful. Spitz has some pop in his hands, but Harris absolutely flattens people when he lands clean. Against a man of similar stature, Harris should find major success if he simply walks forward and exchanges. So long as Harris fights with confidence, he’s primed to get back in the win column.
Key Wins: Anthony Hamilton (UFC Fight Night 116)
Key Losses: Mark Godbeer (UFC 209)
Keys to Victory: Like Harris, Spitz found an athletic avenue after his collegiate career, though Spitz was a football player. In the cage, Spitz is reasonably well-rounded despite his lack of professional experience, making use of long range strikes and the occasional takedown.
In this bout, Spitz’s distance management will be tested. It’s always possible that Harris doesn’t show up mentally, but assuming he does, Spitz has to be very wary of his foe’s power. To win, Spitz will have to keep Harris at the end of his jab and kicks, avoiding the clubbing counters and hooks of “The Big Ticket.”
Neither fighter has a wrestling background, which generally means a well-timed takedown will work. If Spitz can keep Harris back and convince him to over-commit, he might be able to duck under a hook and plant Harris on the mat. Spitz has a few submission wins on his record, and Harris generally looks pretty confused from his back, so that’s another potential avenue to victory.
Bottom Line: It’s low-level Heavyweight MMA — it could produce a great knockout or dreadful three-round slog.
Both men are considered prospects for different reasons. In Harris’ case, he is clearly a very gifted athlete, and his kickboxing skills have improved over the years. At 34 years old, he’s still “Heavyweight young,” and it remains a possibility that he’ll grow into a Top 15 talent. There’s not that much competition, really.
On the other hand, Spitz may not amaze with his fluid movement, but he has showed an impressive amount of skill considering his limited experience. He’s just seven fights into his professional career, and Spitz is very young for the division at 27 years old. It’s hard to pinpoint where his ceiling is currently, and fights like this help determine his future.
For either man, a win pushes the victor closer to a Top 15-ranked foe. Losing carries different consequences, as Harris technically has lost his previous two and could be released. Spitz, meanwhile, won his last bout quickly and will definitely receive another fight.
At UFC Fight Night 131, Walt Harris and Daniel Spitz will square off on the main card. Which Heavyweight will drop the hammer?