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Despite successfully competing in a sport that's been called “human cockfighting,” Sean Spencer, a 26-year-old mixed martial artist, is soft-spoken, both in tone and in content.

 

Fresh off his nationally televised unanimous decision victory at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale in November, Spencer has won five of his last six fights, with an overall MMA record of 11-2. On Saturday, March 15, Spencer has his next big fight at UFC 171 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

 

Perhaps what is most remarkable about Spencer the fighter is how unremarkable Spencer the person is. Over the phone, I never would’ve guessed that I was talking to a rising welterweight (170 lbs) star. He works full-time with Loanstar Title Loans in Dallas, while still climbing the ladder in the premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Far from the obnoxiously-in-your-face cage fighter stereotype, Spencer puts the ‘professional’ into professional fighter. Soft-spoken and hard-working, Spencer said to me that he tries to live up to UFC’s motto – “as real as it gets.”

 

Spencer grew up in small-town Virginia with his parents and siblings. While playing linebacker and fullback on his high school football team, Spencer wasn’t expected to become a professional athlete. He never even had any wrestling or boxing experience, let alone full MMA, until 2006.

 

Upon graduating from high school, Spencer had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. So, as he often did in times of uncertainty, he prayed. He asked God to get him into something that will keep him active, something that will allow him to be great. About two weeks later, he found himself in Wal-Mart’s DVD section, drawn to a DVD of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Watching it later that day, Spencer knew that he had found his calling.

 

In 2009, Spencer moved to Dallas and became more serious about the sport – a decision that he hasn’t regretted. “Dallas has been great to me from the very first day I stepped foot on its soil. I love Dallas, Texas. I love the people here,” Spencer said. “I love pretty much everything about Dallas but the traffic.”

 

After only five years, he's now competing among the best in the world - and on March 15 he'll be doing so in front of his home crowd. Since it's only the second time that the UFC has been in Dallas (the first was 2009), it's a pretty big sports event on a local level. For UFC 103 in 2009, the AAC welcomed a near-sellout crowd of 17,428 people.

 

On Saturday, Spencer will face his toughest opponent yet, Alex Garcia. “The Dominican Nightmare,” as Garcia is known, is a viciously powerful – and currently undefeated – striker. But Spencer is no stranger to being an underdog, and isn’t too worried. He told me that he’s confident that his hand will be raised in victory on March 15.

 

“The future looks very bright. I’m very thankful to be in the position that I’m in,” Spencer said. “I’ve been through a whole lot in my MMA career and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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