Adopted hometown hero Alan Belcher, former UFC Middleweight is coming out of retirement to compete in a submission grappling match this Saturday, February 29 in Biloxi. Although he’s fought on the biggest MMA stage there is, there’s no better way to thank his fans than to compete in the fastest growing promotion based out of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Find out why he’s back, what motivates him, and why it’s important for his fans and his students to see Alan Belcher back in action.
“I haven’t maintained my skills, I’ve actually improved them.”
Hi Alan! Can you tell us what prompted you to get back into competition?
There are a couple factors that made me want to get back into it. One is that I’ve gotten bored and in order to keep challenging myself I had to find something competitive to keep myself mentally sharp. Another reason is to inspire everyone. I’m a leader of a lot of kids, up-and-coming fighters, and people in our community. Whether it’s the 40 year old mom in our jiu jitsu class or the football or basketball or baseball player in our athlete program, I feel like it’s my duty to show them how to get ready for competition and how to win. Of course my kids are a huge factor. They were very young during my last fight, and I want them to see that competitive side of me, and to inspire them and give them some of those memories, even if it’s only in grappling.
“One thing I have to say is I have so much respect for Tony. There are a lot of black belts from this area that wouldn’t do this against me, so I really appreciate him stepping up. I can’t say that enough!”
How have you kept up your skills since you’ve been out?
I haven’t maintained my skills, I’ve actually improved them. My last fight I was 29 years old, now I’m 35. So, I’m 6 years better. I’m wrestling, practicing jiu jitsu, with strength and conditioning and speed training alongside my fighters. I’m just as fast, probably even stronger, and I’m damn sure smarter now.
You’ve already fought and won against Marcus Sursa. What do you expect from him?
Actually Marcus is injured so I’ll be grappling against Tony Rayburn, a jiu jitsu expert, coach and instructor out of Florida. He’s actually beaten one of my main instructors with a heel hook. One thing I have to say is I have so much respect for Tony. There are a lot of black belts from this area that wouldn’t do this against me, so I really appreciate him stepping up. I can’t say that enough!
“Bar none, my biggest athletic accomplishment is making the top-10 of the UFC in four years, at 26 years old.”
What made you choose Empire as the organization to come back to?
One reason is because of my connection with Jason Knight, one of the owners. I’ll do anything to support him and help grow the company. Another reason is Kristan Guirola, the CEO. He’s been a client and student for years and years. He’s always been honest, he’s doing a really good thing with this and his heart is in the right place.
What’s your biggest accomplishment, athletic wise?
Bar none, my biggest athletic accomplishment is making the top-10 of the UFC in four years, at 26 years old. That [and] coming back from multiple eye surgeries in 2011, and going on a four-fight win streak and being back in title contention for the Middleweight championship of the UFC.
Any advice for up and coming fighters?
Don’t get caught up in the hype or the swag. Become a student of martial arts!
Empire Fighting Championship 5 is taking place this Saturday, February 29th, 2020 at the Biloxi Civic Center. Doors open at 6, fights start at 7. All ages are welcome. Tickets are available at fightertix.com.Join the fighters and the EFC team for weigh-ins at Boots & Spurs in Downtown Ocean Springs on Friday, February 28, 2020 at 6pm.
Don’t forget to bookmark our page and check back often for more MMA & combat sport news, interviews, video and photography from the Gulf Coast & beyond! If you like what you see, go ahead and give our Facebook page a like and follow us on Instagram @fightsportfocus.