Spencer Fisher: A Fan’s Fighter

Photo by Paul Thatcher
Photo by Paul Thatcher

“Whether I win or lose, I want people to always say, ‘That guy can fight — that guy loves to fight,’” Spencer Fisher said. “Everybody remembers my fights — I try to leave that out there.”

Fisher’s penchant for intensity began as a young man in the three-stoplight town of Cashiers, NC. He and his sisters were raised by grandparents following the deaths of his parents – his mother died of an aneurism, his father was killed in a train accident – who then enrolled him in karate at 15 to help channel his energy.

“I was a pretty rowdy child. I blamed everybody for everything, and martial arts helped calm me down. It gave me a focus and direction to where I wanted to go with it,” Fisher said.

“Karate was a lifeline,” said Fisher. “I wasn’t good at any other sports … I wanted to be my own person … to do something for myself, and all the pressure was on me to accomplish things.”

Like many martial artists, Fisher’s interest was piqued the first time he saw an Ultimate Fighting Championship match and set his sights on making it to big show. He began entering and winning amateur boxing matches and tough-man competitions at the as a heavyweight — impressive considering that his frame is ideally suited for his current fighting weight of 155 pounds.

“I went to a seminar the day after Jens [Pulver] won the [UFC lightweight championship] belt, and Pat [Miletich] and Jens said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come out to Iowa and give it a shot?’ so I came out to Iowa,” Fisher said.

Training at the Miletich Camp was a dream come true but it almost didn’t last. The gym is famous for throwing new guys into the shark tank immediately which creates a high rate of first-week turnover. Fisher was almost one of the casualties. “I almost left the week I was there,” said Fisher. “I almost quit because I took such a beating from those guys. I was wearing my nose on my shirt.

“A week in I said, ‘Let’s go home — forget this. I’ll go back to doing the 9-to-5 shit,’ you know? [My wife] made me stick it out, and I didn’t quit. Five years later, I’m fighting in the UFC, so it’s the best move I ever made.”

Spencer met his wife, Emily, while the two were still in North Carolina, after she interviewed him for a college paper about mixed martial arts.

“She started training with me and actually fought one time and was hooked immediately. She’s a realtor now, and she has a fight this coming weekend. I told her, ‘It’s not easy to sell a house when you have a black eye, Emily.’ ”

Fisher s concerned when his wife gets in the cage. “I don’t like to see her do it, but I don’t think I have much to say considering she watches me, so I’m pretty supportive,” he said, “but it always makes me cringe when I see her get hit.”

The two have three daughters, ages 19 months to 12 years and Fisher is grateful for the support of family and friends, yet he lives with one regret.

“I think the biggest regret in the fighting, in living this dream I am living … is that my grandparents are no longer here to see that I made it this far. They’re the ones who really pushed me to do this. That’s the biggest disappointment that I have about this,” he said.

In remembrance of the grandparents who raised him after double tragedies took the lives of his parents, Spencer fights with the cross on his fight shorts. It’s his way of keeping his grandparents’ belief in him with him throughout his fights.

“It’s something that’s truly heartfelt that I believe. If you have that support, you can do anything,” Fisher said.

The fighter underwent surgery to repair a torn Librium and remove bone spurs in his shoulder after his fight with Shannon Gugerty at UFC 90 and is champing at the bit to work his way into title contention at 155 with a win over Caol Uno at UFC 99 on June 13 in Cologne, Germany.

“I’m the guy who gets worked up. I hear about the fight and the weeks come down closer and closer and I start losing sleep over it, I get sick, I throw up, I get nervous — everything that you’re not supposed to do, I do,” Fisher said. “But once I walk out there and I see all those people cheering for me and all the hard work that went into it, it’s definitely worth it.”

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