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UFC 209’s Mark Godbeer aiming to show Sikjitsu opponent the danger of ‘belly punches’

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Mark ‘Hand of’ Godbeer makes his second Octagon appearance at UFC 209. He spoke to Bloody Elbow about his late replacement opponent, as well as joining the Bearjew’s Scottish Hit Squad.

England’s Mark Godbeer (11-3) goes into UFC 209 this weekend looking for redemption, having lost his promotional debut in late 2016. The former BAMMA heavyweight champion was originally scheduled to fight Todd Duffee on Saturday night. However, Duffee withdrew from the contest due to an injury. Stepping in on short notice is the unheralded, and undefeated, Daniel Spitz (5-0).

“Having a last minute change doesn’t really matter,” Godbeer told Bloody Elbow. “I’m not bothered. Our job is we get paid to fight people. So if the UFC says to me, ‘You have to fight him’, we take it. We don’t back down, we don’t say we’re not doing this, or we’re not ready. We’re fighters, we get paid to fight and so that’s what we do.”

“I’ve spent two months away from my family and my kids for this fight,” continued Godbeer. “They could have offered me the champion and I would have taken the fight; there’s no doubt in my mind. It could have been anyone and I would have taken it.”

Despite his new opponent having yet to compete outside of the regional scene, Godbeer claimed that he and his team were able to ‘find good info’ on Spitz, who is coached by Rich Little out of Spokane, WA.

“He doesn’t seem to have fought on the bigger shows,” said Godbeer. “I’ve fought on shows like Bellator, I was BAMMA champion, I’ve fought in the UFC, I’ve fought in front of big crowds – I think I’ve gotten my big-fight show nerves out the way by now.”

Godbeer believes the inexperienced Spitz might struggle with the pressure that comes with competing at the highest level of mixed martial arts. Though, he did concede that Spitz might be an individual who thrives under such pressure.

Regardless of how Spitz reacts to the fabled ‘UFC jitters’, Godbeer is confident of being able to handle the Sikjitsu fighter come Saturday. “I’ve got the advantage in all areas against Daniel Spitz,” said Godbeer. “So he’s in for a tough debut.”

Godbeer knows about tough debuts. In November, when he faced Justin Ledet at UFC Belfast, Godbeer was taken down and submitted by a rear-naked choke in the first round. “My debut for the UFC didn’t go to plan,” sighed Godbeer. “I don’t put that down to my ability. Obviously there are holes in my game that needed adjusting, but I put that down to me not being mentally prepared for the event. I know my ground game is a lot better than what I showed.”

Up until the Ledet fight Godbeer had been training out of Bridgewater, a small town in the rural English county of Somerset. Shortly after his loss in Belfast, he – and those around him – knew it was time for a change. “One of my biggest problems with being in Somerset wasn’t my coaches. My coaches got me this far. What I lacked was training partners who were my size and my level.”

Godbeer’s assessment was echoed by his longtime head coach Arthur Meek, who encouraged the heavyweight to find a new team with UFC-level training partners. Taking Meek’s advice, Godbeer moved north of the border to join Scottish Hit Squad – home to Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig.

Godbeer had visited Scottish Hit Squad in the past to train with Craig, the former BAMMA light heavyweight champion who fights Tyson Pedro at UFC 209. “These guys are pushing me and pushing me. Some days I’m the hammer, some days I’m the nail. I’ve had a great camp in all areas and I’ve really improved,” said Godbeer, who mentioned that he felt his grappling had especially improved since making the move.

The heavyweight also touted how happy he has been sharing training camps with Craig on route to UFC 209. “It’s awesome,” said Godbeer. “I’ll come into the gym for a sparring session and I’ll get rounds on Paul. I’ll walk away on a high, because I’ve had a good session. The next time I come in, I can tell that’s done Paul’s head in. I can tell because Paul’s all over me. And then it’s vice versa. It’s never a one-way street, it’s always back and forth and we’re always making each other better”

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Hw ninjas. Putting some fun combo’s together in muay thai today, think I’ll leave the flying kicks to the fly weight guys and werdum of coarse

Posted by Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer on Friday, January 27, 2017

“As far as I’m concerned, and people probably say this every fight, I genuinely have trained and prepped harder in all areas of MMA than I have ever have before,” continued Godbeer, who expressed bemusement regarding what may be going on inside his new opponent’s training camp.

When speaking to Thomas Gerbasi of, Spitz’ head coach Rich Little claimed that fighters were ‘not allowed to block a body shot’ in his gym. “I truly believe you’re mentally weak to go down from a belly punch,” stated Little, who expressed a similar opinion about checking leg kicks.

When informed of these comments, Godbeer sneered. “I’m dropping people daily with body punches,” he said. “If that’s his mentality, then I’m going to show him why we block body punches. He’ll see why we check leg kicks. Everyone’s got their own ways of training and toughening up, but no one’s immune to a body shot. You hit that sweet liver spot with a nice hook or a nice kick, no one is immune to that. Nobody.”

“It’s gonna be a hard fight for Daniel Spitz,” continued Godbeer. “I’m gonna keep him on his back foot. I’ve seen he likes to clinch. I hope he does clinch with me, because I’m going to be a lot stronger than him. I’m going to look for the finish, but I’ll be calculated. I’m not gonna rush into things and swing wildly. I’ve drilled my gameplan, it’s much the same as it was with Duffee, and I can see myself KO’ing this guy within two rounds.”

You can see how close MArk Godbeer is with this prediction on Saturday night, when he takes on Daniel Spitz on the FS1 prelims of UFC 209.

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