He's back! Well, sorta.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Alan Belcher has not yet been medically cleared to return to mixed martial arts (MMA); however, he does have the green light to participate in the upcoming Copa Podio heavyweight jiu-jitsu tournament scheduled for Feb. 1, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
From promoter Jeferson Mayca (via MMA Fighting):
"Alan Belcher can't fight MMA because of his eye injury, but he was cleared to fight jiu-jitsu. We talked a lot over the last couple months and came up with the idea of having him in the heavyweight tournament."
One advantage of a grappling tournament, from Belcher's perspective, is he does not have to worry about getting punched in the eye.
Or poked, which is what happened when "The Talent" fought Michael Bisping at UFC 159 last April in New Jersey (see the GIF here). Already felled by eye injuries earlier in his career, "The Count's" errant finger once again sent Belcher to the sidelines for an extended period of time.
Now he's back.
And his jits is pretty good, to boot. Already a black belt under Helio "Soneca" Moreira, Belcher was fearless in his grappling exchanges with heel-hook hoodlum Rousimar Palhares, matching the stocky Brazilian at UFC on FOX 3 with his own game before pounding him into dust. But how well will he do in a straight up jiu-jitsu match?
We're about to find out.