Alan Belcher’s career with the UFC has led him over many cliffs and perhaps through just as many valleys.
After his razor thin split-decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100 -- a fight that granted each of the participants a $100,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus -- he was devasted. Belcher, who had won his two previous fights before meeting "Sexyama," was once again fell out of the good graces of UFC executives and dipped deeper in the 185-pound rankings.
However, what stings the good ole' southern man the most is the fact that his upcoming fight with Wilson Gouveia at UFC 107 isn't slated to appear live on the main pay-per-view (PPV) card. Quite frankly, Belcher -- who is known for being one of the more entertaining fighters in the UFC -- is, for lack of a better word, "pissed" about the situation.
The good news is Belcher could see himself move from the back-burner to front-and-center in a division on the short end when it comes to contenders. All he needs is another exciting win -- or even a "fluke" win as he puts it -- and he could once again be back in the title chase.
MMAmania.com recently tracked down Belcher to hear his feelings about his close decision loss to Akiyama, his fight with Gouveia being on the undercard, and the reasons behind getting Johnny Cash tattooed on his arm.
Check it out:
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): You are obviously coming off a tough split-decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. Could you describe your feelings during the days following the disappointing decision?
Alan Belcher: I was depressed and trying to figure out what to do. It would’ve been a lot worse if I wouldn’t have won that "Fight of the Night" bonus, that big bonus. That kind of changed my mind about it. I was kind of like, let’s get back to training and do big things next time. That’s how you should feel every time, but it took that bonus to really make me feel that way.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): How was that loss any worse than previous losses you have had, considering it was such a close decision?
Alan Belcher: It’s tough man. You try to get that third (consecutive) win and then you get a loss. Two wins you get a loss. Two wins, and you are like, 'Oh my God, I’m gonna break this.' Every time I get to that point I’m like, 'I’m going to get my third win.' I was about to get my third win. I went in there and fought the best that I could and I think I beat my opponent. And, you know, they stole it from me, man.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): How anxious are you to get back into the Octagon after losing such a close fight? Do you feel like you have something to prove?
Alan Belcher: Yeah, absolutely, I’ve got something to prove. I have the critics, all the haters. And to Dana White, Joe Silva. You know, I don’t think they really think I’m a top fighter. I know there’s a lot of people out there that know I’m the best in the world. If I’ve gotta earn their respect, I’m just gonna keep on winning, and that’s what I’m thinking in this fight. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): Would a rematch with Akiyama interest you?
Alan Belcher: Yeah, absolutely. My next fight, I’d love to. Let’s set it up! He’s not fighting Wanderlei now. I mean, I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous some things are. That was on UFC 100 -- 75 countries in the world. I got "Fight of the Night." It wasn’t because they felt sorry for me. It really was the "Fight of the Night." Every time I fight, you know, I’m not trying to show off. That’s just how I am. I’m a good fighter and people like to watch me because I’m an athlete and I’ve got a lot of moves. My next fight, I’m on the undercard? What the hell? What’s the deal with that?
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): In your last two fights you’ve won "Submission of the Night" and "Fight of the Night," so ...
Alan Belcher: Exactly man. I’m winning a bonus every time I fight. The bonuses are given to the fighters to give them incentive to fight the way the UFC wants them to fight. So you’d think the guys getting the bonuses are the ones fighting the way they wanted to fight. So it’s like, why do you put me on the undercard my next fight? Maybe it’s just me. I mean, I don’t have any solid numbers or anything, but it seems like to me that people would rather watch me fight than… Well I’ll just give you an example. Paul Buentello and Todd Duffee are on the main card ahead of me. And I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s because Todd Duffee. They’re hoping he’s gonna be a heavyweight star. Get him a couple of wins and let him fight Brock Lesnar.’ I understand that. Todd Duffee gets hurt, so I’m like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m on the main card for sure.’ Joe tells me that we don’t have many heavyweight stars, so we’re gonna have to keep Buentello on the main card. Paul Buentello! UFC fans these days don’t know who Paul Buentello is. No disrespect to him at all, but that’s just a fact. They don’t know who he is, and he’s not exciting to watch, and he’s not going to be anything in the heavyweight division. He’s already lost his opportunities and he’s going back for whatever reason. I don’t know why man. They’re bringing back all of these old school guys. It’s great for selling the big names and stuff, but Buentello is no big name. The fans want to see me on the main card.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): Is that the most frustrating thing in your career now? The fact that you’re not making this main card, even though you’ve been able to put on some of the best performances?
Alan Belcher: Yeah, I guess you could say that. I’m not considered a top 10 fighter. I don’t know man. I’m close to being in there, but I think that I should be right there. At least the same as Akiyama. I don’t know who’s making these rankings man. Jake Shields, Robbie Lawler, Paulo Filho. I mean, where’s he at? Kazuo Misaki? Can you imagine if I fought that guy? Yoshihiro Akiyama. These guys are all guys around top 10 to 15. Jorge Santiago went on a winning streak against these guys who are not ranked at all. How does he get back in the top 10? I knocked that guy out. The guy that beat him just got his way into the top 10. Mamed Khalidov, or whatever. That guy never fought anybody good until he fought Santiago. He got him down and then hit him from the bottom. That’s kind of a fluke. Man, it’s just, it’s ridiculous. Demian Maia, he got his fast track into the UFC, then he got destroyed really fast by Nate Marquardt. Maybe he shouldn’t be out of the top 10, but still he shouldn’t be at four or five. That’s kind of who I want to fight next if I can’t get a rematch with Akiyama. I’d like to fight Demian Maia. Show people he doesn’t belong in the top 10. He can’t take me down. He can’t stand with me.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): How far away from a title shot do you feel you are in this division, compared to someone like Demian Maia?
Alan Belcher: He’s a long ways away. He got handled last time. I don’t think he’s gonna get one anytime soon. I think if I win this in a dominating fashion, that he’d give me a fight that would get me in the right spot for a title shot. But then again, you never know man. I can’t get my hopes up at all.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): At UFC 106, Forrest Griffin got a 30-27 decision from one of the judges, and Dana White thought it was a terrible decision. Same thing goes for the Shogun-Machida fight. Dana White says that was a terrible decision. Is it kind of upsetting to see him kind of defend these fighters like Ortiz and Rua, but with your decision he was basically just saying you can’t let it go to the judges?
Alan Belcher: Yeah man. You’re right. I don’t know. I can’t speak that way. Maybe mine was just one of the beginning ones and now he’s starting to speak out. But yeah man, it is upsetting. He did say something about it in the press conference, but like you said, he did. He was the first person I went to, Dana said that’s what happens when you let it go to the judges. Don’t look at me, I can’t do nothing about it.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): You are set to fight Wilson Gouveia at UFC 107 in Memphis, Tennessee. Gouveia has mean jiu-jitsu, but loves to stand and bang. How do you see this fight playing out?
Alan Belcher: I don’t wanna give my game plan away that much, but I’ve got a few things in my toolbox that I’ve always had. Nothing really new, but a way that I think that it’s not going to be much of a match standing I don’t think. If he brings the right game plan to the fight and is really conditioned to keep pushing the pace and try to take me down, and keep trying to take me down, and keep trying to take me down. You know, then it will be a good fight. But if he’s content with standing, I don’t think it’s going to be much of a match.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): Where will a win over Gouveia put you in the UFC 185-pound division?
Alan Belcher: Man, I can’t say. You never know with these people making the rankings, people making the matches in the UFC. You never know. It’s about how big of a splash I can make, you know? Really to tell you the truth, what kind of a fluke can you make. Am I gonna go in there and knock him out in five seconds, and everybody goes, ’Oh my God. Alan Belcher should fight Anderson Silva next.' And I get on the microphone and am like, ‘Yeah, I’m the best ever and I’m ready for Anderson Silva.’ That’s just how it works in this game man. It’s not real. It’s not real. You know what I’m saying? That could happen, or it could be a really close three round fight and then I get put back on the back burner again.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): On a different note, UFC 100 introduced a lot of viewers to the Johnny Cash tattoo you have on your left arm. Could you explain the tattoo and the reasons for getting it done?
Alan Belcher: Man, I just think that it represents the kind of music that I like and I like Johnny Cash a lot man. Grew up listening to it. I don’t know man. It’s pretty much a way of just expressing my interest in traditional country music and Johnny Cash is maybe not my favorite but one of my favorites. And I thought it would make a good piece on my arm. I’m working on getting some more stuff on there. I just wanted to express myself a little more. Show my music side and I like doing things that are not fighting. You know, I’m not just a fighter. All these guys, it’s like fighting is their life and all this. Not me, you know? I do other things. I don’t have to have fighting. That’s kind of what the tattoo is all about.
Nate Lawson (MMAmania.com): Well besides Johnny Cash, what’s on your iPod or CD player? What are you listening to?
Alan Belcher: Always Bob Dylan. I like song writers. Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are some of my favorites. Let’s see… I like Eddie Vedder a lot man. A lot of stuff that he covered. A lot of political things and religious things that he wrote about. The movie "Into the Wild," the soundtrack he did for that. I’m listening to that a lot now. I’m thinking about coming out to a song off of there. And, yeah man, I listen to everything. A lot of different stuff man, but that stuff’s always on there man. Willie and Bob Dylan.