SpitballingPod Interviews UFC Middleweight Contender Sam Alvey
Late last night, I had the pleasure of speaking with UFC Middleweight Contender, Sam Alvey. You can hear the full interview below, or read the full transcript if you prefer. We spoke about his roots into MMA, his time on TUF, working with his wife, the fight with Rashad and his 2017 Vengeance Tour. Enjoy
Rory: Hi, it’s Rory from the SpitballingPod, how are you?
Sam: I’m doing great, how are you doing sir?
Rory: I’m doing really good thank-you, thanks for taking the time to speak to us today.
Sam: Absolutely, my pleasure.
Rory: To start us off, where did you get the nickname from? (Smile’n Sam Alvey) It’s one of the more original names that we’ve seen.
Sam: In all honesty, I just smile a lot. (laughs)
Rory: It’s as simple as that!
Sam: It just seemed to make sense
Rory: How does it feel to be seen as one of the nice guys in a sport where it’s so competitive, and in the days where everyone seems to try and sell fights by trash talking?
Sam: You know, it’s easy for me because I like to think I’m just a nice guy. It really takes no work at all. I just be myself, I don’t have to sell anything, I don’t have to push anything, I don’t have to try and make anyone believe that I’m anything. I’m just Sam
Rory: That’s certainly how it comes across anyway. To go back to your early days, how did you get into MMA?
Sam: Honestly, I just thought I was tough. I didn’t know about the UFC, I didn’t know about Bellator, I didn’t know about MMA, I just thought I was tough. Someone said there was a cage I could fight in, and I thought ‘cool, I’ll do that’, and I just kept doing that. Eventually, they paid me, and that was sweet, so I thought I should train – I started training myself. Then I found out about the UFC, and I thought maybe I’ll do that, and now, here I am!
Rory: How did it feel being the number one pick when you were on TUF? (The Ultimate Fighter)
Sam: You know, that felt fantastic. I always liked TUF and I always dreamed about being that first pick, so actually being it was awesome! Losing made me pissed but you know, I tried the best I could. The weight just wasted me.
Rory: What did you learn from the experience?
Sam: I’d never been 170 before; I’d either fought at heavy or at 205. But the UFC called and I’m not gonna say no, so I accepted and made 170. It was miserable, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; Looking back now I can always brag that I was able to do it, I’d just never do it again.
Rory: Would you ever think of moving weight again?
Sam: I’ll go wherever the fights are available. I’d love to fight at Light Heavyweight and I’d even fight at Heavyweight if needs be – but I’m hoping that doesn’t get offered. I’d definitely like to do Light Heavyweight again.
Rory: I can see you’re one of the most active guys on the roster, do you feel that’s important to keep you at the top of your game? You took 3 fights in 3 months last year.
Sam: Yeah, I tied the record for most fights in a year with Cerrone. I had 6 and I was on schedule to get to 7, but my ankle was injured, so unfortunately I couldn’t break the record. It felt great getting there and keeping it going though, and I hope to have a busy year this year too. I love fighting, it’s my job, and whenever I get a fight offered, I’m gonna say yes.
Rory: Do you feel it’s important to stay active, to be at your best, or do you think it’s important to have the time off?
Sam: For me, I have to stay active. It’s very important for me, I understand people like to have their life outside of fighting. I get bored without it
Rory: You mentioned there the importance of having your home life outside of fighting; For you, your wife is quite heavily involved in the fighting as she works in your corner. How did that come about?
Sam: It was a free ticket at the beginning, so she just said she was in my corner, and then she started taking it way more seriously than I ever did. Then she moved me to California to start really training. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her – that’s not even me bragging about her, I genuinely wouldn’t be the fighter I am today without everything she’s done.
Rory: That’s great to hear, and obviously it’s something a bit different to what we usually see. What was the transition like when you moved to California?
Sam: You know what, it’s quite a change. It’s awfully big and nobody knows how to drive. Wisconsin is wonderful, I love Wisconsin, I miss Wisconsin, but California’s got its charm too, I’ve made my life out here and it’s gonna be my life for a little while longer, so I’m just gonna enjoy every day I can.
Rory: In your last fight, you obviously fought an absolute legend in Rashad Evans. How did it feel to not only fight him, but to beat him as well?
Sam: It felt wonderful. It was such a dream come true; it wasn’t quite the fight I wanted, as far as how it happened, but it was such an honour to share the cage with him. He’s been one of my favourite fighters for as long as I can remember, and to hold a win over someone I respect so much is just… I can’t even explain it.
Rory: Obviously the fight was in Mexico City, how hard is it to fight at that altitude?
Sam: I love it. I love Mexico City, it’s one of my favourite places to fight – I’ve just made some changes in my camp so that the altitude really isn’t a factor to me anymore
Rory: You’re now ranked number 14 in the division. Do you pay much attention to rankings or is it just a case of beating whoever’s next?
Sam: I love bragging about where I am. I think at one point USADA helped me out and so I hit number 11 without even fighting for it and I was telling everyone ‘hey I’m number 11!’, so despite the fact I’m now number 14, I’ll still tell everyone that I’m number 11.
Rory: You mentioned USADA there. What do you make of the Jon Jones situation?
Sam: It doesn’t affect me in any way. He was a joy to the sport, people loved watching him, so I’m really in no place to have an opinion on it.
Rory: That’s fair enough. You’re settled in the Middleweight division. How do you see the fight going between Bisping and GSP, and what do you think of the situation?
Sam: I love the matchup. I think Bisping will win; I think the size difference is gonna be too much for GSP, and Bisping has great takedown defence. It’s not likely that GSP will be able to out-jab him for 12 rounds or take him down and hold him for 12 rounds. I’m very excited about this fight and I like seeing Bisping’s legend come into such a strong finish.
Rory: What’s next for you?
Sam: I want Vitor. I’m on the 2017 Vengeance Tour and anyone that’s beaten my coach Dan Henderson, I’m gonna beat. I’m gonna find a way to do it
Rory: Maybe even with Bisping being on that list?
Sam: Of course – he’s at the top of that list! Hopefully he can hold that title until I get to him.
Rory: How does it feel to train with a legend like Dan Henderson?
Sam: It’s so funny, because you know I’m number 11 in the world and then there’s Dan that’s just better than us. It’s so funny, I’ve worked so hard trying to be as good as I am and then a 5 minute round with Hendo and I realise just how far I’ve still got to go.
Rory: The longevity of the man is just incredible
Sam: I honestly hope I can fight longer than Dan Henderson, I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I hope it does.
Rory: You mentioned earlier about the weight cut to 170 being so hard. How do you find it for 185?
Sam: It goes great, it used to be difficult but I’ve been working with George Lockhart for two years now and his diet program makes my cut so easy. I just love it
Rory: Is there any part of training that you find particularly difficult or tedious?
Sam: I love everything that comes with it. I think the most tedious part is the drive from my house to the gym. I make it twice a day, every day of the year and that gets a little old. I wish I lived in the gym, but I don’t think my wife would be thrilled about it.
Rory: Thanks very much for taking the time to speak to us today, and good luck for the future.
Sam: Thanks so much, thank you Sir.