In four years on the professional MMA circuit, Andreas Spang has never gotten this many interview requests.
Had he merely advanced to the finals of the season-six middleweight tournament at Bellator 66, he wouldn't have gotten so much attention. Unfortunately, though, it was the near-brawl that came afterward that guaranteed the spotlight.
"I just hope it doesn't take away from my win and from my ability," Spang (8-1 MMA, 1-0 BFC) told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I'm a pretty good guy, besides being very emotional."
Moments after knocking out Brian Rogers (9-4 MMA, 2-2 BFC) in a spectacular comeback, Spang shoved Maiquel Falcao (30-4 MMA, 2-0 BFC) and sent Bellator officials scrambling to avoid the kind of in-cage brawl that effectively kicked Strikeforce off network TV.
The two were supposed to square off in a photo op to promote the tournament finals, which is set for Bellator 70 on May 25 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
The Ohio Athletic Commission came inches away from suspending Spang, which might have delayed the finals to Bellator's next season. Instead, he was fined 20 percent of his $30,000 fight purse for instigating the post-fight scuffle at the I-X Center in Cleveland.
Spang acknowledges his role in the incident but also believes Falcao bears some responsibility for the way things happened.
"I did not know we were to face off that soon," he said. "I wish I had been able to enjoy my victory a little bit longer. It was more of a reaction of him being in my face than actually being too emotional. As you can clearly see in the clip, I'm standing still and he walks right into my face."
While that might be true, it wasn't the first time Spang got physical with an opponent. Rogers got close to him at the weigh-ins for Bellator 66 and got a shove, too.
"Things got out of hand," Spang said of that run-in. "There was no bad intention behind it."
Regardless, Spang is working on his temper. The problem, he said, is not when he's in the cage. That's when his emotions are in check and he's 100 percent focused on winning the fight.
It's what happens before and after.
"I am very emotional, and sometimes, unfortunately, those emotions get the best of me," Spang said. "That's why things happen sometimes that are not supposed to happen. I need to control myself more."
These things are part of being a fighter, he points out. It's not always easy to turn competitive aggression on and off like a light switch.
After the event, he apologized to Falcao's camp, Bellator officials and the commission. He told Falcao's camp that he wanted to move past the problem and focus on the future. That was about as much as he could do at that time.
All appearances to the contrary, Spang said there's no heat between he and Falcao leading into the finals. As Bellator Bjorn Rebney recently tweeted, the winner of the fight will meet season-five tourney champ Alexander Shlemenko for the undisputed middleweight championship.
That automatically ups the stakes of the impending showdown. And for better or worse, Spang and Falcao have upped them even more going nose-to-nose beforehand.
While he's enjoyed the extra attention, Spang said he's focused on what he has to do to get a title shot.
"I want to win, regardless of who my opponent is or what they do," he said.