Triple-Threat Spratt Content to Focus on Fighting
By Thomas Gerbasi
Actor, musician, former college football star - the question isn’t why Pete Spratt fights, its how does he find time for it?
“Fighting is first and foremost,” he laughs. “That pays all the bills. It’s when do I find time to do all the other stuff. But I’ve got plenty of time for fighting, and the other stuff comes in between.”
The ‘other stuff’ Spratt refers to consists of a new CD (Real) in stores and a new DVD (Thugz II - Repentance) coming in February. Call him a modern day Renaissance Man if you will, but you will never call him one-dimensional. And that’s something other athletes should look closely at, because in pro sports, all it takes is one bad twist, turn, or hit, and your career is over.
“You never know when you’re gonna get a season or career ending injury, and it’s very important to be diverse with your career and what you choose to do,” said Spratt, a star wide receiver at Southeast Oklahoma State University who also earned tryouts with the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. “Just like with fighting, you can’t be one-dimensional or you’re not going to be successful. It’s the same way in life. You’ve got to be diverse with the things you do, and it’s important for me to keep doing the things I’m doing to show the guys that there’s more to it than just fighting. You can use your fighting as a tool and a vehicle to get other things going, such as the acting or music or whatever it is that you want to do.”
Simply put, Spratt – who also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety and Health – doesn’t need fighting. Yet at 35, he still does it.
“It’s the competitive spirit,” he said. “I played football in college, and it’s one of those things where I just can’t settle for being in the entertainment business – which is nice – but while I can still do it, I want to be able to continue to fight and be successful at it, and once I’m done, then I can focus more on the acting and music and that type of stuff.”
But like a lot of fighters who have been through the mixed martial arts wars over the years, Spratt (a seven year vet with 22 fights to his name) was getting burned out – not strictly on the sport, but on everything around it, and he contemplated retirement.
“I was tired of getting beat up, tired of traveling,” he admitted. “I’m 35 now, and I just felt like it was time for me to go ahead and pursue other things. I was fighting quite a bit overseas and I got tired of traveling. I just wanted to start my second life, and that’s life after fighting.”
Spratt wasn’t going to abandon the sport completely, as he planned on sticking around as a trainer, but with a 2-2 UFC record and losses in three of his last five fights, he figured it might be time to leave the fighting to the young guns. But then some heart to heart conversations with former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith and a phone call from the folks putting together the cast for season four of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ changed everything.
“When ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ came along, I was like, ‘well, maybe I’ve got a couple more years in which I could do some things,’” said Spratt, “and ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ has given me that opportunity. Probably the best thing I ever could have done for my career was doing the show because if you look at the success of all the guys from the previous seasons, it was pretty much a no brainer. Of course while I was there I hated it, but after the fact, with the exposure and everything else, it was the best thing I could have done.”
Six weeks with 15 other fighters and no contact with the outside world will drive anyone crazy, especially someone in their mid-thirties who has a lot going on outside of the Octagon, but Spratt got through the process unscathed, and though he lost bouts to eventual finalists Matt Serra and Chris Lytle during his time on the show, he learned plenty about what he needed to take his game to the next level.
“It showed me exactly what I need to do to be successful and be the best that I can be as far as fighting is concerned,” said Spratt. “That experience in the house shows you why those guys (previous TUF participants) were being successful at what they were doing after the got out of the house. It’s just one of those things where it’s an intense situation and I can’t tell you how much I gained from that experience with ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and being in the house and training with all the guys. You see all the different training styles and the techniques and it was a great experience for me and shows you the way that you need to go to be successful as a fighter.”
Saturday night, Spratt gets to show off some of the lessons he learned when he faces Jeremy Jackson in a bout that has the potential to be one of the most memorable battles of the year. It’s a chance to erase the memory of UFC losses to Carlos Newton and Josh Koscheck, and at the same time bring back the hype that surrounded ‘The Secret Weapon’ when he dismantled then-unbeaten Robbie Lawler in 2003. As for Spratt’s own take on his second UFC life, he sees himself following in the footsteps of another ‘Ultimate Fighter’ standout.
“I lost twice (on TUF4), but I feel like I’m gonna be the next Chris Leben coming out of the house for this season,” said Spratt. “He lost two times on the show, but he came back and he was on a tear with the UFC and he had several wins before he lost to (Anderson) Silva. I feel like I’m gonna be in that same situation, except I don’t plan on losing anytime soon.”
Sounds like a man with a plan, but that still leaves the toughest question unanswered. If Spratt had a choice of winning an Oscar, getting a Grammy, or fastening a UFC title belt around his waist, what would his decision be?
“My decision is to get that UFC belt,” said Spratt. “It’s all about fighting, it’s all about going after that title, and I think I will be able to get a title shot soon.”