Dan Spohn entered last year’s Professional Fighters League (PFL) season with little fan fare but proved in the regular season he was a force to be reckoned with. In his PFL debut, he defeated Bazigit Ataev in the third round via punches and was arguably close to finishing Artur Alibulatov in his second regular season matchup before being unable to finish due to groin strikes. Then in the quarterfinals, Spohn faced Sean O’Connell.
The rules for the quarterfinals were different from other matches in the PFL banner or other MMA matches. They were only two rounds and the advantage went to the fighter who won the first round (same rules will apply this year). Spohn controlled the majority of the first round, landing the better strikes and most people had him winning it. But O’Connell didn’t let up in round two and he caught Spohn with a big right hand that dropped him. O’Connell was able to control the majority of the round on the ground which earned him a 10-8 on enough scorecards to earn him a majority decision. For “Dragon” Spohn, he felt the biggest mistake he made was letting up on the gas too early.
“I honestly felt I was doing pretty good in that fight, I figured with the format they had, with a two-round fight, I was told whoever wins the first-round wins. So, in my opinion I thought I had that fight. My mistake was I cruised too much in that second round and I should’ve just went for the finish the entire time.”
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During PFL’s offseason, that fight was on Spohn’s mind often.
“Of course a lot of the time I was concentrating and thinking about what I could’ve done better or what I could’ve done differently to make things happen more efficiently. So, for sure I had plenty of time to put that in perspective and change some of my game.”
The time off also gave him plenty of time to think about how it could’ve gone differently.
“Trying to get out there and finish the fights a little faster, not rely so much on trying to beat them on points and just look for the finish a little sooner.”
The Ronin Training Center product will face Ataev in the first regular season matchup like he did last season which he won via finish in the third round. But Spohn says he is excited to face Ataev again.
“He was a really tough guy, I’m really excited to fight him again. Regardless of how it went last year, it’s a fight. It can go either way, if I’m not bringing my A game and I’m not fighting like myself, there’s no reason he couldn’t take me out too, I’m excited for it and I’m pumped to be fighting.”
Spohn recognizes that Ataev had success in the last fight and believes by pressuring him more he will have more success and ensure he doesn’t have a chance to set anything up and he believes he he’ll get the first-round finish.
At 34, Spohn isn’t old by any means but as an athlete, especially for a fighter, the question of when to call it quits always comes up. However, Spohn believes he is just starting to hit his stride.
“I feel pretty good with what I’m doing so far, I feel really healthy and physically, I don’t feel I’ve aged to a level where a lot of guys have at my point in this fight career. I haven’t beaten up my body up so bad that I feel like I can’t perform. As long as I’m getting these good offers, I’m getting to fight in front of these big crowds on ESPN, I feel like the sky is the limit right now.”
Spohn will fight on June 6 at PFL 3 which takes place at the Nassau Coliseum and airs on ESPN 2 and ESPN Plus.