Rising UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Spann revealed earlier this week that former NBA star Deron Williams once “whooped” him in training.
Spann, who will meet Anthony Smith in UFC Vegas 37’s main event later tonight (Sat., Sept. 18, 2021) live on ESPN+ in Las Vegas, is one of the very best light heavyweight fighters in the world today. Heck, a victory over “Lionheart” tonight at UFC Vegas 37 may land Spann a fight or two away from a shot at UFC gold.
All of that said, it’s surprising to learn that Williams, a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, got the best of Spann in a past training session. The exchange took place a while back, but it goes to show that other elite athletes around the world have some fighting capability as well.
“Deron whooped my ass one day. I’m dead serious. You can call him and ask him,” Spann told TMZ Sports.
“I was training for a fight, and coach was like, ‘Deron, get in,’” Spann explained. “And, I already knew he hooped, and I knew who he was, but I never got to go with him. I think it was my second or my third round with a fresh body, and you put Deron in, I was like, ‘Oh shit, nice, I get a round off.’ Little did I know Deron used to wrestle. And, he was about 230 at the time.
“It wasn’t until Deron was on top of me and me struggling to get up, and coach gonna look at me and say ‘I’ve been working with him for the last couple of years. You thought you were gonna get this round off?’ He got me, but the next round I hit him with the right hand and he hasn’t sparred me since.”
Luckily for Spann, he was able to even the score in sparring and save some face opposite Williams. No wonder Williams hasn’t returned to the sparring. Spann is a proven power puncher at the light heavyweight level and probably cracked the former NBA point guard pretty good.
Spann, who is coming off a first-round TKO finish over Misha Cirkunov back in March, will be making his UFC main event debut later tonight against “Lionheart.” If all goes well for Spann, Williams will be able to say he got the best of a top contender in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 37 fight card HERE, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.