Only moments after he stopped Dominick Reyes in just one minute, 20 seconds at UFC 281 in Madison Square Garden in November, Ryan Spann dropped a bombshell: He told the world, in both an in-Octagon interview with Joe Rogan and later backstage with the UFC's Laura Sanko, that the Reyes fight was the first one he'd really trained seriously for in his career.
He entered the fight with a 20-7 record, but he insisted it was pretty much based on natural talent.
"I put in a lot of work and this is, honestly, the first time I've trained for a fight," Spann told Sanko after he stopped Reyes. "I'd been doing everything coming off the couch, and everybody's always been mad at me."
Spann told Sanko that he would put on a lot of weight after his bouts, and said his brother would say, "I retire after I fight."
Spann fights for the first time since the devastating finish of Reyes in New York when he takes on Nikita Krylov in the main event Saturday of UFC Vegas 70 at Apex in Las Vegas. At BetMGM, Krylov is a -165 favorite with Spann suddenly looking like a strong play as an underdog at +140.
Krylov has faced far the better competition. He's fought former champions Glover Teixeira and Jan Blachowicz and met former title challengers Volkan Oezdemir, Alexander Gustafsson, Magomed Ankalaev and Ovince Saint Preux.
Spann's competition has been a step lower, but he's shown terrific skills and athleticism in his UFC run up to this point. If we believe the Reyes fight was a sign of things to come — and let's be honest here for a moment and acknowledge that Reyes was struggling mightily at the time he faced Spann — Spann might be ready to push his game to the next level.
He's big with good movement and has a four-inch reach advantage on Krylov. Krylov is coming off back-to-back impressive victories over Gustafsson and Oezdemir but he's been inconsistent throughout his career. He is 29-9 overall, but 3-3 in his last six, and has been finished seven times in his nine losses.
If Spann took his training to the next level, he has the style and the temperament to score an upset victory. I'm going to play Spann based off the feeling that the Reyes win showed him what he's capable of if he works hard, and that he's about to take his game to another level now.
Though Krylov has been finished quite often, I'm not ready to go that far with Spann yet. So I'll just take the plus money and bet Spann to win.
Tatiana Suarez huge favorite in return
It's closing in on four years since Tatiana Suarez last fought. She defeated Nine Nunes by decision on June 9, 2019, in Chicago but hasn't fought since.
But to see how highly regarded she is, she's a whopping -800 in her bout on Saturday against Montana De La Rosa, who is +550. Suarez is by far the biggest favorite on the card, even without having fought in nearly four years and she's doing it at flyweight instead of strawweight where she's normally fought.
De La Rosa has fought six times in the time that Suarez has been out, and gone an uninspiring 2-3-1, with her best performance a TKO of Ariane Lipski in 2021.
Suarez will control the position given her superior wrestling, and so she figures to win. But I hate to lay -800 on anyone, least of all a fighter coming back following a four-year absence. Suarez is -115 to win by decision, so I'll take that in an effort to cut the amount I'll have to lay.
More picks for UFC Vegas 70
Andre Muniz -225 to win over Brendan Allen.
Ode Osbourne +130 to win over Charles Johnson.