Spencer Fisher is permanently disabled

Less than once a year in the combat sports space, a long-form article is published that has to to be read. If you love mixed martial arts, you have to read it, and if you don’t read it, you don’t love mixed martial arts. 2021’s article came early; it’s by Steven Marrocco for MMA Fighting, and focuses on the lot of Spencer Fisher, who fought for a decade from 2002 to 2012, earning a record of 24-9. “The King” was 1-5 his last six fights, and ended his career with a gallant Fight of the Night loss vs. Sam Stout.

There is a very brief excerpt below, but do yourself and the universe a favor, and click this link and read the whole thing. It begins with the UFC being sold to Endeavor. Under ZUFFA ownership, the promotion had been supporting Fisher financially although he was unable to fight. When Endeavor bought the league, they cut expenses, including Fisher.

When you watch an MMA fight, do you think about what happens after the fighters step out of the cage? What happens in the hospital transport, on the plane ride home, the two weeks after the event, five years after a career comes to an abrupt halt? You don’t often hear that story told, and it’s not often in an ex-fighter’s best interest to tell it.

It’s been eight years since Fisher last stepped out of the octagon, and seven since he was forced to retire. Casual fans might remember him. Hardcores, most definitely.

Now, Spencer wants to tell others about what happens when you take punches and don’t have an exit plan. He doubts the message will be heard. It took him seven years since his career ended just to voice it.

“If I can stop anybody else from having to deal with it, that would be good,” he says. “But I don’t think they’ll listen. They have their dreams. I don’t know if I ever listened.”

Spencer drinks a glass of ice water and crunches the cubes as he slumps on the table. Eyes downcast, he scoots his chair back and leans forward, head in his hands.

“Like, I’m spinning, spinning, right now,” he says. “I just get overwhelmed. I had these spells all the time, but sometimes, they get worse than others. When I get stressed out, one thing leads to another, then another, and another. I was trying to think of what I did this morning. I can’t remember, and I didn’t write it down. It was chokes, and I was trying to go over it with her at the gym, and she’s like, ‘This is not what you did. This is not working,’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t do it.’ So I just texted my buddy to see if he could cover for me.”

His 5-year-old, Kyra, named after the famous female competitor of the Gracie family, tugs on his shirt. She’s hungry and can’t get his next oldest, Lucia, 13, to make her food. He stands up, and – smack! – his upper leg hits the table, his outstretched leg saving him a fall. Walking to the kitchen, he keeps his right hand close to a counter, tracing a half-circle with his feet on the way to the stove. He finds a pot and a package of Ramen noodles. There’s a long beat as he stares at the pantry. Before he can boil water, Emily re-appears from around the corner and takes over. Kyra now wants a popsicle.

“I keep it bottled up for the most part,” he says. “I was back and forth on [talking to a journalist.] Like, I don’t know, should I do this, should I not. If they’re going to blackball me, but what more could they do? It’s not like I get tickets or anything like that anymore, anything, so I thought, why not? I damn sure wouldn’t want to tell anybody else. But I damn sure wouldn’t want this on anyone else.”

Still, Spencer fears the consequences of speaking out. What people will think. His legacy. Being erased from the history books by the UFC. Losing his current students. He never wanted to be that guy, the one who complained about the price of admission everyone knew, or thought they knew. The decision to tell his story came when he gave up on help from White.

“I thought I might as well do it now, before I don’t have a story to tell, before I can’t tell it,” he says. “I just don’t want to be considered a punch-drunk fighter that can’t put my sentences together.”

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