UFC middleweight up-and-comer Alan Belcher is fast approaching a breakout to contender status. The exciting Biloxi, MS native holds an impressive 14-6 MMA record with big wins over Jorge Santiago, Ed Herman and Denis Kang.
Belcher looked very solid in a unanimous decision loss to UFC newcomer Yoshihiro Akiyama in his last outing in July at UFC 100. The contest earned "fight of the night" honors and created a backlash among fans who felt that Belcher was jobbed after the decision was rendered in Akiyama's favor.
He looks to get back on track against a very dangerous Wilson Gouveia at UFC 107 this Saturday. Tommy Kail of FiveKnuckles.com recently caught up with Belcher to get his thoughts on his upcoming fight, the state of the UFC's middleweight division, and much more.
FiveKnuckles.com: The results of your last three fights have placed you in the upper echelon of UFC middleweights. How do you feel you stack up in the wide-open middleweight division?
Alan Belcher: I'm confident enough in my abilities at this point to say I stack up with anybody in the division. In the UFC, everything is based on your last performance and there doesn't seem to be any set formula for success. Any way you look at it, the top fighter's in the division are only one fight away from a title shot. It's all about getting the politics on your side and having the fans behind you. If you notice, sometimes a good looking knockout can skyrocket someone who might not deserve it, but if you have a solid performance against a tough competitor, or if you make a strong comeback to win a fight, it may not move you up at all. In my last match for example; I beat [Yoshihiro] Akiyama, but the judges gave the bout to him. The fact that he was awarded an EXTREMELY close decision put him in position to move forward with his career and face a big name fighter, while I'm still running in place. Take nothing away from my upcoming opponent, but I'm at the same point I was before UFC 100. If I get a big knockout in my next fight, chances are I'll be the next best thing.
FiveKnuckles.com: Looking back on that fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama; the fight was very exciting and could have gone either way. How disappointing was it to be on the losing end?
Alan Belcher: It's disappointing to lose any fight, but a close decision stings even more. I watched the fight several times; I can see where a judge could've possibly given him two rounds. We were both equally aggressive, but I certainly did more damage. I definitely out-matched him in the striking game and I was trying to end the fight while he was just trying to hang in there. I don't see how they can give a decision to a fighter in that position. He wanted to take me down, but he couldn't. I kept the fight standing because he couldn't hold me down. I was clearly controlling the cage and I closed one of his eyes. How he made away with the decision? Your guess is as good as mine.
Losing that fight on such a big stage after all the work I put in was very disappointing. In a positive light, I now have a different outlook on my career. I'm really starting to develop patience in this sport and that's something that I never had much of...