Alan Belcher is a name that has been missing from octagon activity for 16 months, but come this Saturday night, the world will bear witness to his triumphant return to the cage against Jason ‘The Athlete’ MacDonald. Why am I using the word ‘triumphant’ before the fight has even taken place? Because, when you suffer a potential career-ending injury, like Alan did (detached retina), it tends to make the fact that he’s still able to compete at the highest level, a victory in itself. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Alan discussed his upcoming comeback fight, title contention, fans and more.
“I’m feeling great. I’m back, 100% and ready for action. I’m excited about this weekend. As you know, I’ve had a couple surgeries, a year and a half ago, threatened with not being able to fight again, but I made it through it, thanks to friends and family and fans, supporting me, keeping me with a positive attitude. I am back and better than ever.”
When asked if he has any residual anxiety about re-injuring his eye, the young middleweight stated that he’s not dwelling on that possibility, and is solely focused on the task at hand.
“I think the worst thing I can do, is have that in the back of my mind. I’ve been incorporating that into my mental training, to not even think about it. The visualizing that I’ve been doing, I’ve been trying to put myself back in my last fight, my best performances, the way I was thinking at those moments, and those thoughts don’t include anything to do with my injury. I’m really just trying to pick up where I left off, and improve on that. I think I had a breakthrough my first couple times in sparring, of getting past that nervous point, where you’re kind of guarding your injury. Once I got past that, I pretty much never looked back. I’m not really worried about it. What happens, happens. I do my best, and win or lose, I’m gonna lay it all on the table.”
Belcher did have some hurdles to cross to get to this point. When he first went back to training after two eye surgeries, motivation and conditioning were immediate obstacles, but they were overcome by hard work and a positive attitude. He stated,
“I’m gonna be honest, my mind was kind of out of the game. I was kind of preparing myself, for if I can’t fight anymore. That was one of the bigger things of getting back to training. I was out of shape and I was dealing with the reaction time, trying to just get back in there. In the first couple months, I just grappled, and that was fun, like always. When you start sparring or hitting the pads, you’ve gotta really like what you’re doing. I had to change my whole mindset and get to a place where I had my goals set. I had to rethink everything, and figure out what I want to accomplish. I had to figure out what I was fighting and training for. It took a little while, but if you keep a positive attitude, you can pretty much make anything happen.”
The Talent was very forthcoming with how he sees the direction of the MacDonald fight going.
“He’s a pretty well rounded guy. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s a good grappler and very dangerous on the ground. If he gets on top of me, it’s gonna be really hard for me to keep him from finishing the fight or submitting me. From the bottom, he has those long legs. Triangles, omaplatas, armbars. It’s really no secret that I’m gonna try and keep the fight standing. It wouldn’t be effective for me to play into his game or try to grapple with him. I’m trying to beat him the easiest way possible, and we both know how that is. I’m not overlooking his striking at all. When you get in there with those little gloves, there’s no lucky punches. They’re trying to hit you, and hit you hard. If you slip for one second, you might actually go to sleep. I’ve heard people say that this is a ‘gimme fight’, but to think that would be my biggest mistake. Jason MacDonald is one of the toughest dudes in the world. That guy is really, really experienced, very durable and he doesn’t go away. That’s why he’s always made his way back to the UFC. That says a lot for his character, that he keeps coming back, and he always comes back better. He’s got that ‘never quit’ attitude, and I think it’s got the makings of a really good fight. That being said, I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m feeling good, and I think it’s going to be an awesome night for me.”
One thing that has always been welcome in Belcher’s life, is the ever growing fanbase he’s acquired. We read him some comments from a thread in the Underground forum, and he gave this heartfelt response:
“The fans have just really come out of the woodwork. They just lift you up, lift your spirits up. You know, to have positive comments on the MMA forums can be pretty few and far between. That says a lot. It’s pretty hard not to smile, hearing the good things that people are saying.”
Candid discussion on Anderson Silva resulted in Alan giving his opinion on where he feels his shot at title contention lies.
“I’ve got to prove, against someone like Jason MacDonald, that I’m back, and still continuing my streak. I think it’s fair, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they started talking about that, for sure. I don’t expect it, but I don’t expect them not to, either. I think I match up good. I think I deserve it. I’ve been in the UFC over 5 years, now. I’ve never lost 2 in a row, and I’ve had some real nice streaks against the top guys. I’m not scared of Anderson Silva. I think I would be the best striker that he’s faced. While he’s on top of his game, I want to challenge myself.”
In regards to who he’d like a future match with, he says Michael Bisping could be on the short list.
“There’s really no one out there that I dislike or that I would enjoy beating, but if there had to be someone, I guess it would be Bisping. I guess we’ve talked a little smack back and forth. Not too much, but I can see being happy with hitting him in the face a little bit. He’s definitely got some good attributes. A lot of people talk bad about his skills, because they don’t like his personality, but he has some things that make him hard to beat. He keeps a good distance, throws a lot of jabs, and he’s fast. He point fights a lot, but I don’t see him being able to outpoint me whenever it comes to power striking. I believe I can beat him. I’m almost 100% positive that I wouldn’t have any problems there.“
UFC 25: The Battle On The Bayou airs live, this Saturday, September 17th on Spike TV, with the undercard airing on the UFC Facebook fanpage.
You can listen to the audio from this interview at TapouT Radio.