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Sam Spencer.

Sam Spencer On His Entry To The Pro Ranks At Budo FC 6

November-26-14
Manchester Predators' Sam Spencer speaks to Harry Williams about his pro MMA debut in Bolton this weekend.

Author: Harry Williams (@Harry_Williams)

Interview

In modern day MMA, the amateur ranks are taken very seriously. Before you hit the professional scale, you must first go through the tests of the ever-growing UK amateur scene. It’s an unspoken rule on the domestic level.

As a 6-0 amateur and with the educational system now out of the way for a while, Sam Spencer will kick things up a notch at Budo 6: Cartwright vs. Begg this weekend as he takes the next step in his career at the professional level.

A noteworthy point is that this will not only be the Manchester Predators’ first professional bout, but his first fight in over a year after several injuries and setbacks. Such a tenure on the sideline can either knock a fighter backwards or provide them with time to tighten up.

At 21-years-old, the desire to maintain an active social life is very much alive, but he has had the time to mature following his recent hiatus. Sam much believes that with his time to rest up and party, the focus on competition is now at a rate it has never been before.

“It has been an up and down time whilst I have been away injured,” Sam confessed. “I haven’t able to compete now since June of 2013, and whilst I did complete a full fight camp in early 2014, other injuries have kept me out of action of full training until summer of this year.

“I’ve been training in MMA since the age of sixteen, so these injuries allowed me to have a little time away from the constant routine of training to socialise a lot more than I have in the past, which I enjoyed. However, because the fight I had lined up earlier this year fell through, I didn’t feel as though I earned the downtime as much as I did when I had some time off injured last year.

“Overall I would say that the past 18 months have been a blessing in disguise as I’ve gotten a lot of the partying and that lifestyle out of my system, as I missed a lot that kind of stuff in my late teen years as I was so dedicated to my amateur career.

“I recently graduated from University and achieved the degree classification I set a goal to achieve,” continued Sam. “This, aside from healing up the injuries, has allowed me to now fully dedicate my life and time to MMA.

“When I got the all clear from the doctors from this most recent injury, a fire was lit under my ass that I have never experienced before, I have never been as dedicated and motivated to a fight camp as I have recently.”

Following on from capturing of Controlled Aggression’s featherweight belt with a win over Jack Cartwright, Sam initially suffered a fractured shin bone. As you can imagine, Spencer was out for a lengthy time. After the cancellation of his anticipated FCC 9 bout against Javonne Morrison, the former suffered from a fractured thumb in training. It’s safe to imply that Lady Luck has not been on the side of the 145-pounder.

“I saw multiple doctors and physiotherapists to figure out how to treat the fracture and eventually accepted that rest is the only way to heal a fractured shin,” Sam ensued. “I took the rest of the year off training to allow my leg to heal up.

“In December 2013 I confirmed a fight for the FCC amateur bantamweight title set for the following March, so a couple of days into the New Year I began training for that fight. Everything went great and I was in the best shape I had ever been in and I knew for a fact that I would have added the FCC strap to my amateur collection.

“Unfortunately, Javonne pulled from the fight with an illness and FCC couldn’t find me a suitable replacement opponent on short notice.

“The week after the fight fell through I was at wrestling practice in the gym and I badly broke my thumb. A number of errors from the hospital resulted in me needing a full thumb re-break and pinning. This left me in a cast for 4 months. I did what I could to stay in shape in the meantime and I got the all clear to start training again in July 2014.”

As previously noted, the amateur scene is beginning to glow and has a reputable stature on our shores today. With so many youngsters competing at this level, it’s not an easy task to stand out among the flock. With that said; many eyes have been on Sam as a strong future representative in the UK. Looking back at his four-year tenure at the learning level, Spencer holds it in high regard. He remarked,

“I loved training and fighting as an amateur. I cannot really remember what my life was like before I trained some level of MMA - and that’s me being 100% honest. I had my first amateur fight at seventeen and can honestly say I have enjoyed every training camp since.

“I look back on my amateur career with pride, I never turned down an opponent, fought tough guys, the majority have gone on to have successful amateur careers themselves, and I always found a way to win. I think I dedicated and sacrificed much more for my amateur career than most amateur fighters.”

In brunt honesty, Spencer didn’t expect a professional turn in 2014. As with most things in MMA you have to be ready for all opportunities as momentum can swing your way at any moment.

The longer you stay at amateur and the more successful you are, the harder match-ups become. In doing so, Sam recognised the potential of this opportunity from Budo and decided to embrace the chance.

“I didn’t think I would have fought professionally by the end of 2014,” confessed the featherweight. “I did plan on fighting a couple of times this year before I got the injuries. As I mentioned earlier I recently graduated from university, this has allowed me to do what I have wanted to be able to do for years and train like a full-time fighter. This hugely influenced my decision to move to pro.

“With Budo offering me the fight and the timescale fitting with my plans perfectly, I thought to myself that I’ve trained harder than most professionals throughout my amateur career, and now I have the time to train even more, why not start my professional journey?”

Every combatant has their way of mental preparation for a bout – and each is as unique as the rest. Whether it’s watching Rocky the night before or some form of superstition, everybody has their way.
For Spencer, books are a secret to his undefeated attitude.

“I’m a huge fan of that kind of literature,” Sam retorted. “I’ve always been very driven with regards to this sport and I feel that reading books on the subject of competitive edge and self-motivation help put into words the emotions you deal with in both the daily grind of training and the competition itself.

“This sport can be incredibly difficult on your ego and state of mind, especially if you are sparring with the kind of animals I spar with daily, and mental toughness is essential. Reading about how the leaders in sports, business and politics remain mentally strong and focused can only benefit my own attitude and drive to succeed.”

This weekend, Sam attempts to positively start off his professional ways as he battles Jakob Grzegorzek (1-3-1). Having had teammate Jamie Lester square off to a draw with Jakob, Spencer fed off Lester’s advice. The weekend marks a big step up for Sam. Though he’s swapping eight-ounce gloves for four-ouncers, the young combatant seems more prepared than ever.

“I can’t wait to get back in there,” enthused Spencer. “I have watched what I can on Jakob and from what I can see he looks game for a scrap, so I guarantee an exciting fight. I never have a strict game plan in place when I fight. I train every day to be as well rounded as possible so I’m happy where ever the fight goes.

“I know how and where I can win the fight, and I know what I have to do to achieve that. It is just a case of putting the all the improvements I have made over the past 18 months into practise and I have no doubt I will find a way to win.”

As the New Year is quickly approaching, fighters worldwide begin putting their plans in place for what may occur over the next twelve months. Some plans strategic – others not so much.

For Sam, a trip to Thailand is in order to further hone his skills in the striking facet. Fights every two months don’t sound appealing to Spencer. Though the level changes, the battles remain the same to Sam.

“I’m going over to Phuket, Thailand for a couple of months straight after this fight to train and develop my skills, so I definitely won’t be fighting until I’m back from there,” explained the Rossendale resident.

“I’m in no rush to jump into fight after fight when I get back though as I’m only young and want to continue working on my skills. I’m only 21 so I have plenty of time yet to improve before I get to where I know I can get to in this sport.

“I’m looking at this fight the same as I have always looked at all my previous fights. I have always expected myself to win and put pressure on myself to succeed, this fight is no different in that respect. I am determined to carry on the undefeated run into the professional ranks and continue the streak for years to come.”

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Follow @SamSpencerMMA and @Harry_Williams on Twitter.

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