Andreas Spång probably isn't very popular in Colorado.
The Las Vegas-based middleweight has made two trips to the Centennial State thus far in his 5-0 MMA career, and neither visit turned out particularly well for his locally-sourced opponent.
At last December's Ring of Fire 36 in Denver, Spång choked out K-1 vet Andre "The Silencer" Walker in under three minutes. Six months later, he went to Broomfield and notched his biggest win to date: a vicious one-punch knockout of previously unbeaten BJJ player Chaun Sims.
With nebulous "big things" looming on the horizon, the man they call the "Sweet Swede" was nice enough to answer a few questions for Bloody Elbow recently:
Tell us a little about yourself and where you're from.
I'm from Sweden and came to Las Vegas a few years ago to turn pro. At that time, pro fighting was not too popular in Sweden and I figured if I wanted to be a top level fighter, I had to get out of the country to train. I had been boxing for a while and was a little bored with my situation in Sweden at that time, so I figured that Las Vegas would be the perfect place.
How'd you get started in the martial arts and MMA? I know that you and your brother both have boxing experience.
I grew up in the gym! My dad used to be a boxer and he brought me to the gym when I was a kid. I always had boxing, but didn't start to compete until I was 17. I first started with Japanese Ju-Jitsu when I was nine and did that for a few years, and in the meantime I also tried a little bit of every martial art: tae kwon do, kung fu, etc.
After some disappointing outings in the Swedish boxing nationals - 2nd and 3rd place - I tried some MMA for the first time. I had fun with it, but when I got to the U.S., I wanted to box. It was tough to get my boxing career started and a bunch of injuries stalled my debut. K-1 was still doing shows in Vegas and an opportunity came up, so I made my pro debut in K-1 instead.
I did have my boxing debut finally, but injuries kept me sidelined. I had to spend some time in Sweden because of some visa issues. My brother [Christopher Spång] was training MMA there at the time and I started to train with him. The training came back naturally, so I made my MMA debut a couple of months later. The funny thing is that I started with boxing and my brother started with MMA, and we've switched.
Are you living in the States full time now? I saw you walk out to ABBA in your last fight, so clearly you're still repping Sweden.
Yeah, I'm the "Sweet Swede!" It was supposed to get some cheers, the ABBA song, but people just gave me a weird look! I live in Las Vegas full time with my family, but I will always have love for Sweden!
You train at a few different places in Vegas, J-Sect MMA and One Kick's Gym. What does each gym add to your arsenal?
Oh, I get the best from two- actually, three worlds. I also do BJJ with Sergio Penha. I do boxing at J-Sect with with Skip [Kelp] and some up-and-coming boxers, and kickboxing with Nick [Blomgrem] at One Kick's along with Steve Cantwell, Stephan Bonnar, Dewey Cooper and the Njokuani brothers. We also grapple together at Sergio Penha's with some other top-level grapplers.
Nick Blomgren is sort of an infamous figure in Vegas. How'd you come to know him? Can you share any stories with us from training at the gym?
I don't know where to start with the stories! When I first met him, he was still bouncing at the strip clubs here in Vegas. One night when I was out, I'd probably had some drinks and I told him, "hey, I wanna do K-1." He smiled and said, "come down to the gym and we'll see what you got." Couple of months later, after some tough training, I fought in K-1 and won. That was '06 and since then we've been a tight team.
Are you to the point where you're able to fight full-time?
I still teach and do private training over at J-Sect. So if you're in Vegas and wanna train, hit me up!
What would you say is your best attribute as a fighter?
My mental game is on top right now. I feel very calm and focused when I walk out to fight.
Your last fight was for Ring of Fire, where you showed some great sub defense and knocked out Chaun Sims. Has your phone been ringing since that win? Do you have your next fight lined up?
Ha, it definitely changed some things. We're working on one big fight right now that I haven't got a date for yet, but I'm very excited about that one! I'll keep you updated.
Anyone you'd like to thank?
Thanks to Skip Kelp, One Kick, Sergio Penha, Jeff Monroe and all my training partners for always keeping me in shape. Thanks to my family, friends and fans for always supporting me. Thanks to Dr. Bascharon for keeping me in one piece. Thanks to FightCapital for always taking care of me.
Nickname: "Sweet Swede"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Fighting out of: Las Vegas, NV
Pro Record: 5-0