The following article, Alan Belcher Has Checked All The Boxes For His Homecoming Fight Against Roy Nelson , was first published on Flag And Cross.
BILOXI, Miss. — An eye injury in 2013 forced then, UFC middleweight veteran Alan Belcher into retirement. Belcher even admits to thinking his fighting days were over. After several years away from fighting and the resurgence of one of the oldest forms of combat, bareknuckle, Belcher has been on a tear. He’s currently undefeated, captured a heavyweight title, and will headline one of the biggest bareknuckle cards to date on Friday, November 10, against Roy Nelson for Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA 6 in front of a rowdy hometown crowd in Biloxi, Mississippi. Belcher is currently flying high with 10 consecutive knockouts and looks to keeping that streak going against Nelson. Far from an easy task, as “Big Country” has proven to be one of the toughest guys to step into combat sports. Fans will be in for a treat as the two heavyweight sluggers lay it all on the line.
“The Talent” talks to Zenger News about his recent success, Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA 6, and much more.
Zenger: How has everything been going?
Belcher: Everything is going great. Camps been great, feeling good, families good. I can’t complain at all.
Zenger: Friday night you have the opportunity to headline a massive card in your hometown. To come so far in combat sports, what does that mean to you?
Belcher: I was just thinking about that yesterday. It’s crazy that I became obsessed with martial arts when I was a little kid, and somehow or another, I’ve got to do this my entire life. I got to make a living doing it, and it’s really cool. I’m really blessed to be able to continue to still be fighting. I thought I was done with my career, things changed, took a turn, you follow the path, and it led me right back into it. It feels more natural now that it ever has.
Zenger: Mixed martial arts are multiple disciplines combined, but how have you been able to reinvent yourself in two different combat sports being undefeated in both boxing and bareknuckle?
Belcher: One part of reinventing myself was becoming more of a martial artist in the sense of, being a martial artist is a way of life, which a lot of people can’t grasp. The philosophy of how you live and mastering yourself during your life is a hard concept for some people. That’s what you do and how you make money, but mastering yourself is the goal in martial arts. Once I started going down that path, I realized what I had been really doing my whole life. To complete the cycle, I felt there was more to learn about myself.
So, reinventing myself was not so much about going into boxing and bareknuckle, it’s a little bit deeper to me. It’s about going into my mind, understanding myself better, and fulfilling my purpose. Specifically, about boxing and bareknuckle, I put together a plan and guidance from Dean Toole. I gotta give him a lot of props. He helped come up with the strategy of positioning myself in a more valuable way, or making myself valuable again. Getting in the public eye and forming the publics perception of me, and what it was going to take to do that. Bareknuckle and boxing was a big part of that. Go over to bareknuckle, get some good paydays, get some wins, get back into the sport, boxing same thing, start doing that, get the experience, and it all starts working together.
Now, we’re 2 ½ years into this plan, I’ve fought 11 times, 10 knockouts in a row, undefeated in bareknuckle and boxing, and now I see where we’re headed with it. Every fight is bigger and a better payday. People are starting to take note and we’re going to keep going down this path. Started with bareknuckle, then bareknuckle boxing, and now bareknuckle MMA. I had a feeling it was all going to lead back to MMA.
Zenger: You have a very tough opponent in Roy Nelson coming to try and spoil your homecoming. What do you have to do to prevent that from happening?
Belcher: I’ve learned Roy very well and what he brings to the table, his weaknesses that I’m going to exploit, and his strengths that I have to watch out for. I’ve mentally and physically prepared myself for that. If a guy has a strong punch or good technique, you work on defending that. I have just been taking it to the next level. I spent a lot of time in Albuquerque training with Jon Jones and all of his coaches. I got to work with Phil Nurse and now he’s back home with me. Just surrounding myself with the right people and the right energy. Everything is focused in on what we need to do as a professional should be. We checked all the boxes to win a fight against Roy Nelson. You will see Friday night what we’ve been working on.
Zenger: You’re the undefeated guy, you’re the bareknuckle champion, and it’s in your backyard. Do you feel any pressure from those circumstances?
Belcher: Pressure is good when you can use it as fuel. Since this thing has taken off, I’ve learned how to use my anxiety, my nerves, my stress, my fears, pressure, and all these negative things into a positive thing. I really wanted to be a UFC champion. I finally woke up to the realization that, if you want to be a champion, you have to continue to develop yourself into a champion. The way a champion thinks, the way a champion acts. The way a champion approaches challenging things. The high pressure of things that other people cannot understand. The psychology and the mental fortitude that it takes to keep dealing with the pressure. I feel like since I’ve faced it head on, I’m just in there now, man. It feels good actually.
Zenger: You reached the goal of becoming a champion in bareknuckle. Given the magnitude of this card, was it a no brainer to vacate that title and join Gamebred?
Belcher: Looking back on it, it definitely was the right move. I’m happy to be where I am now. I put a lot of thought into it. It makes so much sense. A lot of fighters that Masvidal is bringing in and wants to bring in… we just have a different way of doing things. Masvidal is recruiting warriors. It just fits. I love Jorge and I love Dean Toole. Dean Toole is masterful at what he does. He thinks multiple moves ahead like he’s playing chess. I love that we can work together with our energy going in the same direction for what we are trying to accomplish and money that we are trying to make. I love being on the Gambred team. Feels like I’m in the right place. BKFC, we couldn’t come to terms at that time. So, here we are and it seems like the smartest thing to do.
(Additional reporting provided by Joseph Hammond)
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