Daniel Spitz takes on promotional debutant Tanner Boser at UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs Weidman. Spitz’s last Octagon foray was in June 2018. Spitz had a fight fall through March of this year but is now on track for a UFC return. Spitz is looking to rebound from a second-round stoppage to surging contender Walt Harris and remind people he was the guy to stop Anthony Hamilton 0:24 into round one. This heavyweight prizefight kicks off the preliminary portion of the event and I was fortunate to get some insights from Spitz ahead of fight night.
Return To The Octagon
The year-plus layoff was not one that Daniel Spitz was averse to taking. He definitely saw the benefits of the time away from competition. Spitz said, “It was kind of self-induced layoff. I had two injuries. The same one. I just needed some time for that and I kind of had some mental things that I needed to clear up outside of the cage. This is a pretty dangerous sport going in a hundred percent clear and focused, you know? When you go into it with kind of shaky mindset with outside distractions. Yeah, you can get hurt in there. Had to clear that up but yeah I’m happy to get back in there.”
Spitz is getting himself reacquainted with the processes of preparing for a specific fight date. He is studying what his opponent is doing and has only ramped things up as camp got deeper. Spitz said, “I watch a lot of film. I come from a college football background. So we would watch film like three hours a day in football. I try to do like a half-hour a day and then when the fight gets closer, kind of bump those numbers up. It’s just a way for me to feel comfortable. Kind of like I’ve been in there with him before.”
The Road to the Bulldozer
Tanner Boser is debuting in UFC but he has a marked experienced advantage over Daniel Spitz in terms of number of fights. Boser was the Unified MMA heavyweight champion and also The Bulldozer was a veteran of the ACB circuit. Spitz believes his edge in UFC experience will be the difference-maker in this intriguing style clash.
When I asked him for thoughts on his opponent, Spitz said “He’s a tough guy. I don’t think he moves that well. He’s not flat-footed. He tries to do some switch stance stuff. He does have a little bit more experience than me outside the UFC. But competition-wise experience I think I trump him a lot. Five years of Division I football and having three more fights in the UFC against top competition. It’s just different. He fought some fat, unathletic dudes in ACB and went to decisions with all of them. I don’t think he’s necessarily the most dangerous heavyweight I’ve ever thought. But he does have good cardio and he’s durable.”
Spitz continued, “It’s different at this level. You can fight over in ACB….Can fight over in Bellator. You can fight wherever you want. But until you’re at this level, it’s the upper echelon of the sport and you don’t know what it feels like to be in there. Don’t know how you’re going to react under those lights, don’t know how the fight week is going to affect you. You don’t know any of that. I think honestly I have the experience advantage.”
Fight Camp Preparations
Jamelle Jones has been a regular sparring partner but Daniel Spitz is working with a lot of hungry heavyweights lately. He said, “Me and Jamelle have been putting in a lot of work together. I have a couple of other heavyweights, new guys. I have a lot of big heavyweights over at New Born, my jiu-jitsu gym. Having a lot of big guys. This is the most prepared I’ve ever been. Training partner-wise, physically, mentally. Just everything.”
Recuperation after hard training has become more of a priority in this camp. These efforts have optimized what he can do physically, he gets better returns on what he’s doing, and he can be consistent while avoiding red lining.
Spitz said, “Most of the recovery comes from just sleep you know. I’ve taken more rest days this camp. I’m kinda one of those guys that tends to overtrain. So I talked to my coach and I take Tuesday night and all of Sunday are rest days now. So that’s helped me a lot. I bought an expensive heart rate monitor. So now I monitor that a lot more. Trying to get a little more scientific with it.”
Being The Role Model He Wished He Had
Spitz has overcome quite a few things over the last few years. He was once stranded in Russia due to Visa issues and an event he took take part in got canceled. A bomb threat was made on the arena and he had to then navigate the foreign country without a translator. Spitz got through it and took away a lot of perspective and gratitude from what had happened. On a more internalized level though, Spitz dealt with struggles measurably more difficult than this on a regular basis.
He said, “It’s no mystery that I pulled out of my last fight because I was dealing with pretty severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I just want to make a statement. I’m coming back to prove to people that you don’t need to stay down there. That you can get help. You can beat it. I’m not special. I’m not anything different than anybody else.”
Spitz continued, “There really is an epidemic. It’s the second leading cause of death for teens in America. I want to eventually be in a position where I can build kids up. Be that role model I wish I had when I was going through all of this. That’s kind of what I’m dedicating this fight too.”