Retired professional mixed martial artist Alan Belcher left the UFC after dropping back-to-back decisions to Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping. The former fighter with the famed Johnny Cash tattoo goes one-on-one with Tony Reid of MyMMANews.com.
Tony Reid – You started a form of Karate at age eight. What were your memories and experiences like at that age?
Alan Belcher – “To me it was just really new. Prior to that I had wanted to participate for a few years. I thought about it a lot. I built it up in my head. Then to be on the floor and training, it was great. The memories are still crystal clear. Fast forward so many years down the road and I am still excited about it.”
Tony Reid – You started your MMA career at the tender age of 15. What were your thoughts stepping into the cage back then? Did you ever think what you started back then would lead you to where you are today?
Alan Belcher – “Man, no I didn’t. I did martial arts because I thought it was cool and I had something to prove to myself and to everyone else, too. I didn’t think of it as a career or to be famous or anything like that. I am from a really small area and it didn’t really exist here. It existed through the UFC but no one thought then that they would grow up and become a MMA fighter. That thought didn’t materialize to about ten or twelve years ago. I did it for the martial arts experience, before any prize fighting or business reasons. I just wanted to fight and win. If I could fight and win that would somehow make me a different person, one filled with self-confidence.”
Tony Reid – You were a good high school athlete in other sports such as basketball and football. What are your memoires of the other sports you played as a kid?
Alan Belcher – “I really only played the other sports because people asked me to. I wasn’t really all that into them. I played baseball since I was five years old, all the way through high school and into college. Most everything else people wanted me to play because I was tall and athletic. I really didn’t care all that much about it. I liked it better than school though. It was a reason to get out of class early. It gave me something to do after school, too. That’s what I took away from it. It did help with the physical and mental side of things.”
Tony Reid – How did you get your nickname “The Talent”?
Alan Belcher – “I really don’t know. In MMA and grappling I actually feel like I have less talent than other people. I have been grappling since I was 13 or 14 years old. It wasn’t until I was 24 or 25 that I really felt like I was getting good at it. I was really just all heart before that. I used athletic attributes and speed and strength and a lot of heart. That was what made me known as a striker. Sometimes you just tough your way through it. But the technical side of grappling, I didn’t get good until later in my career.”
Tony Reid – You have a well-documented Johnny Cash tattoo on your left arm. Can you talk about when you got it, the decision to get it and the influence “the man in black” has had on you?
Alan Belcher – “The influence is more of something that reminds me of when and how I grew up. My dad and grandparents influenced me to listen to country and especially the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Country music was big in our household. Once I got out on my own I realized that made me really unique. People didn’t listen to that as much. I always wondered why people didn’t like that kind of music. It just made me want to get a tattoo of the biggest person from that era and Johnny Cash is from the same area I’m from in Arkansas. He has the same background and I feel like we are similar in some ways.”
Tony Reid – That genre of music has changed a lot over the years. Do you listen to any modern country music?
Alan Belcher – “I like some current country. I listen to Eric Church, Jamey Johnson and Jason Aldean. I am a big fan of country music. It’s an acquired taste. Everybody always says country music isn’t cool or something. Some people realize it is cool though. Take down your defenses and give it a shot.”
Tony Reid – If you could choose one fight from your career that every MMA fan should see, which fight would you choose and why?
Alan Belcher – “It’s kind of cliché but almost every single day someone approaches me about the Palhares fight. That or Akiyama. They tell me how I beat him. That’s from way back in 2009. That was like five years ago. People still talk about that one. I would say the Palhares fight is the one I’m most proud of. To go in there and execute the plan and get that reaction. That’s the one for me.”
Tony Reid – You have had a number of injuries and issues from the eye injuries, the fractured spine, the cancellation of UFC 151 and the Vitor fight that fell through to name a few. What was the biggest obstacle you have overcome (or didn’t overcome) when you were trying to keep your fight career moving in the right direction?
Alan Belcher – “Just the ups and downs, I can admit it now. Inside the cage I have a strong mind I just overthink things too much. My mind has been my worst enemy. Wins and losses and the thought process have been a big factor in my career. On top of that I have been plagued with a bunch of little nagging injuries. They have been hard to deal with sometimes.”
Tony Reid – I have talked to a number of high level mixed martial artist who try to open gyms and they tend to struggle. You really have it together, you know what you are doing and are making money and doing very well for yourself.
Alan Belcher – “The business side is a big part of it. You get to a point where it becomes very important as in ‘what are you going to do after your career is over?’ kind of important. Luckily I had influences and people that taught me how to be smart on the business side of things to set myself up for my post fight life. You have to invest your time and money wisely. I made some good decisions and I am moving on to the next thing. I’m not going to just sit around and do nothing.
“My business is keeping me so busy right now that I feel like I would be letting people down if I left to do anything else. I also have my kids and my wife, who are very important to me. With training and cornering fighters and all the website stuff we have going on, I have a lot of things going on in my life.”