Tonight, Ryan Spann is set to compete in his very first UFC main event. There at UFC Vegas 37, he will meet up with former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Anthony Smith. Beating Smith would catapult Spann into the top ten in the division and potentially see him face off against the current elite crop at 205 pounds.
This week of fighting, Spann revealed that he had previously wrestled with a former elite athlete of a different sport, professional basketball. With TMZ he described sparring with three-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Deron Williams.
“Deron stung my ass one day. I’m very serious. You can call him and ask him,” he said.
“I was training for a fight, and the coach said ‘Deron, get on’,” Spann said. âAnd, I already knew he was hooping, and I knew who he was, but I never got to go with him. I think it was my second or third round with a fresh body, and you put Deron in it, I was like, “Oh shit, nice, I’m getting a trick.” I didn’t know Deron was struggling before. And he was about 230 years old at the time.
It wasn’t until Deron was on top of me and I had a hard time getting up, and the coach looked at me and said, âI’ve been working with him for two years. Did you think you were going to do this round? ‘ He got me, but the next round I hit him with my right hand and he hasn’t fought me since.
Spann also revealed that when this happened, around 2018, Williams was interested in a fight with disgraced former NFL player (and current UFC heavyweight) Greg Hardy. Spann believes a better game for Williams would be boxing disruptor Jake Paul, whose last fight with an NBA player ended in a sensational knockout.
Williams, a 6-foot-3 point guard, was drafted into the NBA by the Utah Jazz with third overall pick in 2005. He spent six years with the Jazz, winning two All-NBA second team caps. In 2011, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets, who later became the Brooklyn Nets. After four years with the Nets, he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent. In 2017, he signed a one-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Williams retired after that contract expired, at just 33 years old.
Before turning to basketball, Williams had a promising wrestling career. He won two Texas State Championships in elementary school and college. Longtime MMA fan, Williams is part owner of Fortis MMA in Dallas, TX.