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MMA Analysis: Reflecting on Alan Belcher's Interesting Journey Heading into UFC on FOX 3

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Remember when Alan Belcher (17-6) was the talk of the UFC’s middleweight division? As the late SNL cast member Chris Farley would say, “you..you..remember the time?” Belcher was riding high with wins over Herman, Kang, a controversial loss to Akiyama, and wins over Gouveia, and Cote. Things were looking bright and all of a sudden things were looking dim.

On a hot August day in Brazil, Alan Belcher had to withdraw from a fight with Demian Maia due to loss of vision in his right eye. Belcher had injured his eye in training and his upcoming fight with Maia had to be canceled. Not only was it loss of vision but a lost opportunity. A win for Belcher might have given him a shot at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

Emergency eye surgery took place and Belcher’s career hung in the balance. Many people wondered if they would ever see the Jonesboro, Arkansas native in the Octagon again.

Forward to one year later and on September of 2011, Alan Belcher made his much anticipated return to the cage. At UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger, Belcher took on Canadian veteran Jason MacDonald. It would be a true test for “The Talent,” but one passed with flying colors. Belcher was able to dominate MacDonald on the ground with some vicious G n’ P. Alan won the fight via verbal submission due to strikes in the first round. It was more than just a win. It was total jubilation for the Belcher camp. He was back. The long road of rehabilitation was over. It was time to move on.

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Instead of getting right back at it and preparing for another fight, Belcher decided to chill and be with his wife Ashlee as she was about to give birth to their second child. From returning from a devastating injury to welcoming another child into the fold, there was a new spirit of renewal in the Belcher household. Alan Belcher 2.0 was taking shape.

My wife was pregnant and right after that fight she was due and on September 21st we had a baby boy. So I took like six months off but nothing compared to the time I had off before that. But you know I took the time off to spend with my family and continue to train so that I could become even better.

Belcher believes that everything happens for a reason. He never allowed himself to fall into a dark hole while rehabilitating from the eye injury. He knew that one day he would return. He owed that to himself and the people around him. He took the time to mature not just as a fighter but also as a person.

You get older and your family grows and you become more mature on your outlook on things. You become less selfish and more about doing things for your family and that really changes you a lot in how you think and everything.

Before the injury, Belcher did whatever he could to climb the ladder as fast as possible. He called out  the champ Anderson Silva, he was ready to make a title run. Now Alan believes that if he is going to make another go at it, he needed to re-jig how he prepared. For the family man, it’s all about balance.

I have been balancing training with my family. The last couple of years there have been a lot of changes but recently I have made some adjustments that have really helped me out. That is what I have been doing between my son being born and now. I have kids running around, business to take care of, training, and so I have had to find time to balance everything out.

It’s not just words for Belcher he had to completely re-invent how he lived his life. It was this new found maturity that he found as a fighter. Thanks to Duke Roufus and the huge support system that Belcher has in Biloxi, Mississippi, changes were easy to swallow.

I came to the realization that I am going to have to train and watch my diet year round. I knew I was going to have to figure that out if I was going to make it to the highest level. That is what I have been experimenting with or Beta testing for the last few months. It really has been working out for me and I have changed my lifestyle a lot. I have been eating and training not like I’m in training camp but instead I have a good balance, instead of that real hardcore training, dieting and yo-yoing back and forth in weight. I can now balance my family, business and training and I think it’s made a huge difference.

If you think there is real discipline in training and eating properly year round, try adding the responsibilities of being a husband and parent to the mix.

I go in the morning to train and do that for a few hours and after I go home and my wife is there and the kids have worn her out, so, I like to help out. I also have to find time to spend with my wife too. It takes a lot of character to balance everything out and do it the right way.

Alan has found a new way to balance out his life, but the middleweight ladder still stands in front of him and as tempting it is to rush into everything, it’s the one fight at a time mentality that is the driving force behind Belcher’s plans for middleweight domination. The next step is Rousimar Palhares (14-3) at UFC on FOX 3 on May 5th in New Jersey.

I’m not in a hurry to move up but I know whoever wins this fight will move near the top of the division. Palhares is one of the most dangerous guys in this division compared to a few others who are just point fighters and like to squeak out decisions. Whoever wins this fight should be the top dog in my opinion.

It’s no secret that Palhares is a ninja on the ground. He has become the master of the leg lock and Belcher knows it will be his toughest fight of his career.

I never fought anybody that’s as a high a level of grappler…not just a grappler but with that specific type of submission. He is really good with the leg lock or heel hook and those are really tough to stop. But I will find a way to stop it. I’m sure I will probably find myself in that situation in the fight and knowing that can make you feel pretty nervous. I don’t want to be in that situation but I know that there is a good chance I will and so that is where the challenge lies. This will be my toughest fight so far. I don’t think I have really fought anyone that could hurt or injure me like he can.

So what does one do to prepare for a submission that could leave you screaming in pain?

I have been training with some of the best leg lock guys in the world for this fight. I don’t think I will be able to get him into one, that’s not really my style, but I do know how to defend them really well. Who knows maybe I could submit him myself. I know people think I’m crazy to say that, but my ground game is feeling pretty strong.

Submitting Palhares will be a tall order but Belcher has had his back against the wall before and has surprised many through out his career. He is no slouch on the ground; just ask Denis Kang and Patrick Cote. Belcher visualizes how the fight will go and feels he is the more technical fighter.

To me I feel like I’m going to be really sharp and more focused than ever. My body and mind is really in tune right now. I’m feeling great and stronger than ever. My weight is down. I think you’re going to see some really technical and explosive things out of me. I think I will be the more technical and smarter fighter. I will dictate and control the fight in that he won’t be able to get a hold of me. At some point in this fight I will knock him out.

Whether it’s a submission win or a KO win, for Belcher who has amassed two submissions of the night bonuses and one fight of the night bonus, the extra bonus in this upcoming bout would be just what the doctor… er… accountant ordered.

The way I feel is that I could use a fight bonus. Over my last six fights I have got a lot of bonuses. It’s not like I try to, but it’s because I finish fights. I have a lot of heart and I think that makes for good fights. So I want to get knock out of the night. I don’t think I’ll get fight of the night because if that happens that would probably mean we both got beat up. Submission of the night is kind of a long shot because I’ll probably be defending submissions so I think knock out of the night is how I see things unfolding.

This Saturday night two men go at it to see who moves up the UFC middleweight rankings. Alan Belcher is not someone who is just happy to be there. He wants to make a statement that he is back and everyone should take notice.

UFC on FOX 3 takes place on May 5th at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Make sure to keep it locked on MMASucka.com for the live results. You can find Alan Belcher at alanbelchermma.com or on Twitter @alanbelcherufc and on his Facebook Fan Page.

-Corner Man-

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For full MMA coverage and the latest news, keep it locked to MMASucka.com. You can also follow Trevor on Twitter @tdueckmania.

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