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Monday, November 12, 2007

Fisher to be Smart vs. Edgar

The Canadian Press

At 31, Spencer (The King) Fisher isn't ready to slow down. But the mixed martial arts fighter does want to play it smart against lightweight Frank (The Answer) Edgar on Saturday night at UFC 78 in Newark, N.J.

In the past Fisher has thrown punches, kicks, knees and caution into the wind. It's made for entertaining fights, but it has also put Fisher (21-3) under undue pressure at times.

"I'm going to try to change things up for this fight," Fisher said in an interview.

"I have a tendency to let emotions take control of me. I just go out there and I go for it. That's something that usually works out for me. It's been successful for me in all my fights except for three.

"However, this fight I'm going to try not to be taken down as much and not go forward as much. My problem is I let emotions take control, I go out there and I try to take the guy out. This fight, I'm going to try to go out there and maybe be a little more patient."

That's probably wise against Edgar, a tough, resourceful 26-year-old from New Jersey.

Edgar (7-0) has turned heads in his brief time in the UFC, winning a spirited decision over Tyson Griffin at UFC 67 -- a bout that was judged fight of the night -- before making short work of Toronto's Mark Bocek at UFC 73 in July.

A former collegiate wrestler with cauliflower ears, he didn't flinch when a piece of his ear was literally kicked off during a November 2006 bout. "I got it glued shut," he explained

"Frank brings a lot of things to the table," Fisher said. "He's not just a wrestler, he can box. So I expect this to be a fast-paced fight."

As noted, Edgar is a talented wrestler who can also punch. But the standup game eventually took a toll on him in the Griffin bout, as did Griffin's kicks to the legs. Edgar has spent time at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, presumably to fill in such holes in his game.

Fisher, meanwhile, has been working out with all the normal suspects in Bettendorf, Iowa, including training partners Josh Neer and Kyle Gray.

Fisher fell victim to a staph infection that swept through Pat Miletich's gym, laying low Drew McFedries, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver as well as Fisher.

McFedries had it worst and had to have some flesh from his leg removed. Fisher's knee was infected, forcing him to miss training and drop out of a Sept. 19 televised fight with Din Thomas.

"I couldn't even walk on it," Fisher said of his knee.

"They lanced it, drained in and then stuffed about two foot of gauze in it."

Kenny Florian took his place, choking out the veteran Thomas in the first round.

Fisher says he's good to go now.

"My wife made sure of that. She wouldn't let me sleep in the bed. Every time I got of the couch, she would spray it with Lysol. I was a walking hazard in this house."

He was sidelined for three weeks, paying a price for the inactivity.

"I like to eat and that's my problem. If I don't exercise and I eat like I do, then I put the weight on fast."

Bettendorf is like the big city for Fisher, who hails from Cashiers, N.C., (pronounced cashers) -- population 1,259 (up from 196 in the 2000 census) with two stop lights.

He got into MMA after watching it on TV, having already taken up karate and boxing as a kid. He had a hard time finding a gym but bumped into Miletich and was invited to Iowa.

"I tried out and the rest is history," he said.

His entree was a little bumpier than that, of course. Fisher remembers getting beaten up on a daily basis.

"Anybody who comes into this gym, unless they're friends with somebody, they always get that kind of welcome, to try to break you, to see if you will break. Of the guys that come here who decide they're going to move to Iowa to do this, I'd say 90 per cent of them turn around and go back to where they're from.

"People see this on TV and think all there is is just to go out there and fight. The fighting part is the easy part."

The tough part, says Fisher, is the discipline needed to get into shape and stay that way -- and in making your life revolve around that training.

Bettendorf helps that, Fisher says. "Either you watch the corn grow or you fight."

Fisher's first pro bout was at 185 pounds, so he needs to do some work to get to 155 -- a number he basically only sees at fight weigh-ins. Still the five-foot-seven fighter says he feels like a small lightweight these days. "Everybody's a lot bigger than I am."

Fisher is coming off a convincing June win over Sam Stout, avenging an earlier loss to the fighter from London, Ont. Stout reckoned he had done enough to win their first meeting, at UFC 58 in March 2006.

"He's tough, and I'm sure they'll be a Part 3 some time," he said.

Fisher is a non-nonsense guy who offers his opinion when asked. Most of cast of the recent 155-pound edition of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV show "were picked on personality and not on talent," he said.

"And I think that shows when they fight someone who does have talent."

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