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Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann Fight Preview and Prediction

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At UFC Vegas 21, we will see the long-awaited return of Leon Edwards, taking on fast-rising contender, Belal Muhammad. While this short notice booking took the MMA community by storm a few weeks back, there are many great matchups on this weekend’s card. One including a light heavyweight battle between eleven-ranked Misha Cirkunov and thirteen-ranked Ryan Spann.

A win here for either man could set them up for a highly ranked opponent in their next bout. You’ve got to love when there are big implications on the line, so join us as we preview Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann!

Misha Cirkunov

TORONTO, CANADA – DECEMBER 10: Misha Cirkunov of Latvia celebrates after his submission victory over Nikita Krylov in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 206 event inside the Air Canada Centre on December 10, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Misha Cirkunov has essentially been a top-fifteen talent in the light heavyweight division ever since making his debut with the UFC back in 2015 and rightfully so. The Latvian-born Cirkunov holds a solid 15-5 record (6-3 in UFC), with plenty of finishes included. Thirteen to be exact, with nine of them coming by way of submission.

Misha made a name for himself rather quickly in the UFC by starting out his tenure with the organization undefeated at 4-0. This stretch included wins over Ion Cutelaba and Nikita Krylov, both via submission. However, all good runs must come to an end, and unfortunately for Cirkunov, it came rather abruptly. He faced off with Volkan Oezdemir during Volkan’s stretch of devastatingly fast knockouts, and Misha would fall on this list of victims just twenty-eight seconds into their bout. Following this fight, Misha would then face off against another top contender in Glover Teixeira and fell short once more, again in the first round via a TKO finish.

Cirkunov did manage to bounce back and has now won two of his last three outings. Both wins coming by, you guessed it, submission. First against Patrick Cummins and the second against one of the top prospects in all of the UFC right now, Jimmy Crute. This win especially is aging like a fine wine considering all of the hype surrounding Crute. There was a loss sandwiched in between these victories that came by the hands, or should I say flying knee, of Johnny Walker. As you can see, Cirkunov has faced nothing short of top-level competition going on six years in the UFC thus far and it is no different at UFC Vegas 21 against Ryan Spann.

Cirkunov is coming into this fight looking to get another win streak started and with all of the moving pieces at light heavyweight right now, a convincing win can go a long way. We have seen Misha be dominant at times and weak at others. Against an opponent as well-rounded as Spann, Cirkunov will need to be ready to go to war because unlike him, Ryan is coming in off of a loss. As we all know, an opponent coming off of a loss can be as dangerous as they come.

Ryan Spann

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – MAY 09: Ryan Spann is interviewed by Joe Rogan after his victory over \ in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 249 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

From one submission specialist to another, we have Ryan Spann. The 29-year-old holds a professional record of 18-6 (4-1 in UFC), with fifteen of those wins coming via finish. Much Like Cirkunov, Spann is a big fan of submissions, having eleven of his own. Spann is also a two-fight veteran of the now-infamous Dana White’s Contender Series. Having lost his first outing on the show to a well-known Karl Roberson, he bounced back in his second chance and earned a UFC contract by defeating Emiiano Sordi with a first-round Guillotine Choke.

Ryan would keep his momentum going and start his UFC career exactly like his counterpart, with a 4-0 record. During this post DWCS run, Spann would go on to defeat a legend in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via KO, Devin Clark by way of submission and the always smiling Sam Alvey, in a very close split decision. We began to see another Contender Series alum make a name for himself and as a result, be set up for a big fight with another finisher in Johnny Walker.

This bout with Walker was one of the wildest one round fights you will ever see. Seriously, at one point in the fight both men nearly put each other to sleep at the same time with a double knockdown. If you have not seen this bout, you need to look it up because wow. However, despite all the craziness this fight gave us, Spann would unfortunately find himself on the losing side of things. After suffering his first loss in the UFC, it will be interesting to see if Ryan will bounce back.

The UFC has given Spann an incredible matchup here. Both men are so good on the ground and sometimes when we get this type of fight, we end up seeing a barn burner on the feet instead. Ryan found himself in a wild fight during his last outing, so you could only imagine he doesn’t want that back to back. Let’s see how this fight just might play out!

Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann Breakdown

As previously stated, sometimes when we get two great grapplers, we end with a standup war. Just see Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington for one example. However, don’t expect that level of the battle for this one. While both have plenty of competence on the feet, the upper hand here in terms of speed and one-punch power will go to Spann. Not to say Cirkunov cannot hurt Ryan when standing, but it would more than likely come up against the fence with punches in bunches.

While both are incredible grapplers and each has their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts, Cirkunov will hold more of the power positions when this fight inevitably hits the mat. He has shown tireless transitioning, slick reversals, and an insanely tight squeeze. While Ryan can no doubt pull off a submission of his own, as we have seen him do, Misha will be a different level test for him. 

Look for this fight to be very competitive early on, with both wanting to get a feel for one another’s movement and speed in the opening moments. Cirkunov will be able to find the opening here. With his heavy pressure, foresee him pressing Spann up against the fence, landing a strong takedown, and going to work. As good of a grappler as Spann is, he has shown some weaknesses when it comes to defending takedowns and that is where Misha will capitalize. If this fight somehow manages to go the distance, both have such a good chance at a victory, which is how evenly matched they are. This is why the opening round will be of the utmost importance and end before we see anything further.

Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann Prediction: Misha Cirkunov via Submission – Round 1

Let us know your predictions for Misha Cirkunov vs Ryan Spann in the comments below!


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Dominic Sallee is a Combat Sports writer. He focuses primarily on the UFC, with plans to venture out with pieces from other MMA organizations in the future. Along with writing, Dominic is also the Co-Host of the Below Average Joe's MMA Podcast, which produces 2-3 new episodes per week about all things in the MMA community!