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Ryan Spann Can’t Be Denied

Ryan Spann looks to continue his case to become a contender when he takes on Johnny Walker at UFC Vegas 11

For the first time in nearly a decade, Jon Jones is out of the UFC’s light heavyweight title picture. His move to heavyweight has opened the door for Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz to compete for the vacant belt at UFC 253, and behind Reyes and Blachowicz is a slew of contenders itching to get their shot at UFC glory.

One of those contenders is Ryan Spann, who will enter his UFC Vegas 11 bout against Johnny Walker riding an eight-fight win streak. Spann believes that this Saturday’s matchup is his chance to make a statement and to show that he’s is going to be the next fighter to reign over the division.

“Now it’s time to make statements. We’re looking at ranked versus ranked, we’re looking at trying to get in the top ten and then from there, with Jon being gone, some things are about to change. Especially when this title fight [between Reyes and Blachowicz] happens,” Spann told UFC.com. “It’s time to make a statement because I could realistically be two fights away.”

Another reason that Spann feels so adamant about making a statement is that he wasn’t proud of his UFC 249 performance against Sam Alvey. Spann believes that he was the more dominant fighter that night in Jacksonville and it doesn’t sit well with him that people might think that Alvey won their showdown.

“I don’t like the fact that people think he won that fight; it bugs me. I don’t like the fact that it was a split (decision), that bugs the hell out of me,” Spann said. “I didn’t feel threatened by him and I didn’t take it as serious as I should have. This fight, I’m coming out blazing. I’m focused and I’m not playing one bit.”

The no games mentality is what has propelled Spann during his eight-fight win streak. After dropping a bout on season one of Dana White’s Contender Series, Spann shifted into high gear, finishing four opponents in a row and earning a UFC contract on the second season of DWCS.

Spann’s UFC finishes over Devin Clark and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira showed just how bright of a prospect the 29-year-old Fortis MMA Product was. Now, after a tougher than expected showing against Alvey, expect “Superman” to return to form against Walker.

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Walker burst onto the scene with a meteoric rise of flying knees and dance moves before hitting a skid against Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov. And while some people have hopped off the Johnny Walker bandwagon, Spann still knows that hype surrounds him.

“He did have a lot more hype, but he’s still got hype and he’s right ahead of me and that’s pretty much what excites me,” said Spann of Walker. “He’s got a number and that’s what I want.”

Spann and Walker had very different journeys to the top 15, but only one of them will make the jump into title contention. It’s an opportunity that Spann can’t wait to seize. He’s ready for the spotlight and he’s ready to stake his claim as the next light heavyweight stalwart.

“You might not know me, you might not have heard my name or wonder what the hell I’m doing in the top 15,” Spann said. “But results speak for themselves.

“You can’t deny me forever.”

You can watch Spann take on Walker at UFC Vegas 11, which begins at 8pm ET / 5pm PT on ESPN+.