Nanaimo MMA athlete wins title belt
Graham Spencer is becoming the face of Canada's top mixed martial arts promotion.
For the second-straight pay-per-view, Spencer defeated a much-ballyhooed Maximum Fighting Championship opponent, earning him a title belt and strengthening his status at the top of the card.
The Nanaimo Impact MMA athlete defeated Mukai Maromo last month in Edmonton in the main event of MFC 36: Reality Check, to win the company's lightweight title.
The win, which boosted Spencer's record to 10-1, was one of his most important victories to date. He had beaten Maromo in 2010, but the Afrikan Assassin had won five straight since then and was one of the MFC's most-hyped fighters.
"Before this fight he was that guy," said Spencer. "They were giving him lots of awards and all sorts of media. It feels good to get some of that exposure but it doesn't matter too much – I do it for the fight, I don't do it for the exposure."
The Feb. 15 fight went exactly the way Spencer predicted it would, ending with a third-round submission.
"He's a big, muscular guy so I just wanted to keep pushing the pace on him…" Spencer said. "He got super tired and I just wanted it more than him."
At the end of the second round the Nanaimo fighter connected with a hard overhand right, but time expired before he could do any further damage.
"I heard the crowd making some noise so I looked up on the big screen and he was wobbling back to his corner," Spencer said. "So I knew I was just going to come out hard in the third round and I did."
He caught his opponent in a north-south choke and even though it wasn't locked in 100 per cent, Maromo was too exhausted to escape. Spencer cinched in the hold deeper and that was that.
"Graham took the opportunity; it was right there for him," said John Punt, Impact MMA trainer. "In this sport it's one thing to see the opportunity to finish [but] to really be able to convincingly execute your game, a lot of guys have reluctance to finish. Finishing is another skill on its own."
Following the finish, Spencer was presented with the lightweight championship belt, though he doesn't intend to defend it. He feels more comfortable at featherweight and would prefer to return to that 145-pound class. He doesn't yet have a fight booked at MFC 37, but as one of the new faces of the company, his image adorns the advertisements, nevertheless.
"He's very humble. He knows where his roots are. He has a grounded personality," said Punt. "He sees the accomplishment but he's looking forward."
FIGHT FACTS … Spencer's fight with Maromo will be broadcast on TSN2, though scheduling is yet to be determined … Follow Spencer on Twitter at @GSpence145.