Sam Alvey: The Art of the Callout
On February 24th 2018, Sam Alvey bounced back from a disappointing defeat to Ramazan Emeev with a soul-stealing knockout against Marcin Prachnio. Following the fight, Alvey would callout Gian Villante and set up a fan-friendly clash on June 1st at UFC Fight Night 131 in Utica, New York.
Heading into the fight with Prachnio, Alvey said his first thought was ‘Man, I’m glad I don’t have to cut so much weight’, referring to his aforementioned defeat to Ramazan Emeev. Alvey accepted the fight on 10 days’ notice and ultimately missed weight, a decision he now regrets. ‘It’s the only fight I have that I regret. It was just too much weight, I still liked the match-up, my coaches tried to talk me out of it and they even said that if I had two weeks then I could take him, but that was just too much weight to cut in 10 days’.
It was no surprise to those within the sport when the news emerged that ‘Smilin Sam’ would be taking the fight on short notice – he still holds the record for most fights in a period of twelve months (tied at 6 with Donald Cerrone). It seems that Alvey has somewhat learned a lesson from his rough cut in Poland, but not enough to put him off taking more short notice bouts in future; ‘I won’t do any more 10 day notice fights, but if they give me a couple of weeks then I’ll show up. I always say, if I don’t fight then I don’t make money, so I’ve gotta make some money. If I can get 4 or 5 more fights in this year then that will be great and I’ll keep doing this until my body tells me that I can’t’ he said.
When Alvey was scheduled to face Marcin Prachnio it was Matchmaking 101 – put a hardened veteran in there with an upcoming prospect to measure whether the prospect is ready for the heights of the division and determine how much the veteran has left. On this occasion, Alvey answered any questions that had been posed of him and in his mind he was just living up to the ability that he knows he possesses – ‘I go into every fight thinking the guy could beat me but I am better than him and I need to perform. I knew he had a lot of hype, he moves, he doesn’t get tired, great takedown defence, but I didn’t care – I know I am the best fighter on the planet when I show up, and I just have to show up’ he said.
Alvey debuted in 2008 and has since amassed 43 fights in his storied career – ‘Smilin Sam’ is often not given the respect he deserves; Looking back himself, Alvey reminisced ‘Yeah I mean, who are the three biggest I’ve fought? Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans and Thales Leites. Leites didn’t go quite right, but I only had one foot going into the fight. Marquardt is one of the best there is, Rashad is a past champion. I know how good I am and I knew I was gonna win this fight (on the Prachnio bout)’.
In the new age of Social Media, a post-fight interview is almost as important as the fight itself – it provides an opportunity to really show the fans what kind of personality you possess and call for any fight that tickles your fancy. The art of the callout is made up of several components – first things first, you need to be realistic. There is no point calling for a fight that makes literally no sense for the other party, for example we often see a big win go to a guy’s head and he immediately calls out the champion. This works for literally nobody, unless you’re a flyweight and in that case, you shoot your shot. You also need to ensure that the fight is of interest to the fans if you really want to gain any momentum with it – a fight between two guys who like to be on the back foot and strike with little volume isn’t going to have the same effect as the prospect of two heavy hitters meeting in the centre of the octagon and swinging hell for leather.
Alvey nailed his callout when he screamed the name of Gian Villante in his post-fight interview; Speaking on the process leading up to the fight, he explained ‘I thought about it, like the week of my fight is when I usually start looking at the list of guys around me that I’d like to fight’. It was a case of mutual frustration that led to Villante being the name on Alvey’s lips, as he told us ‘I actually one way or another I ended up watching his last fight and I loved it. He faced a guy that ran from him for three rounds, kind of like when Elias (Theodorou) fought me – the difference with him was that he kept going forwards and he kept trying to win the fight, he had a gameplan to counter that strategy. We have a similar background there in who we fought and so neither of us will fight each other that way and so it has all the makings of a great fight’.
There is no rush for Alvey, he remains fully confident in his abilities and so is happy to make these kind of exciting fights for the fans and believes he will get the payoff eventually - I’ll get to the title shot, but I know I have a few to win before then and if I can keep getting these first round wins then it should come a little faster’.
Speaking on the stylistic matchup against Villante, it’s one that Alvey is really looking forward to –breaking it down, he said ‘I really do look forward to this fight. I know he has the wrestling ability, I have the takedown defence and then we’re both bangers. It should be a stand-up war, although I kind of hope he shoots on me because I like mixing it in a bit and after the Prachnio fight where I landed my first ever takedown, who knows what will happen?’.
One thing that has been put on the backburner is Alvey’s proposed ‘Hendo Vengeance Tour’ where he planned to avenge each loss that his mentor suffered. ‘They won’t give me anyone that beat Hendo!’ he complained, but took glee in what he had achieved thus far, saying ‘Vitor and I agreed, but the UFC didn’t want it, Machida wouldn’t happen, Anderson is suspended, but I beat Rashad so I at least got that done for him’.