MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Alan Belcher was in protest mode Wednesday. A wild mop of curly hair adorned his head, a far cry from the shaved look he normally brings into the Octagon.
He's angry and he's not shy of letting anyone know it.
He thought he defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100 in July and came out on the unpleasant end of a split decision. He thought for certain being a local that his fight on Saturday at UFC 107 against Wilson Gouveia would be part of the main card and he was angry to find out he was relegated to the preliminaries.
Thus, he sought to make a statement.
"This is my new protest style," he said as he wiped a shock of hair from in front of his eyes. "I'm pissed off about my last fight. I'm pissed off about being on the undercard. … I've always kind of been a rebel, but this is just my protest."
Ultimate Fighting Championship officials opted to put a heavyweight match between the fast-rising Stefan Struve and Paul Buentello on the main card as opposed to Belcher-Gouveia.
Belcher was perplexed, given that he's generally one of the more consistent fighters when it comes to providing action. He lives in Biloxi and was born in Jonesboro, Ark., so he is popular in the region and will have many friends and family members in attendance Saturday.
He assumed because of his series of excellent fights and his local following that he would be on the main card, but was shocked to learn otherwise.
"Any fight I'm ever in is always one of the most entertaining on the card, if not the Fight of the Night," Belcher said. "It's very upsetting to me and it's a huge shock to be on the undercard. I haven't been on the undercard in a long time. I think I've paid my dues.
"You get bonuses in the UFC for performing the way they want you to and I get a bonus every fight. That's the kind of fighter I am."
Belcher is a fighter of the modern age in a sense. He is largely self-taught, though he's traveled the world in search of instruction. But he subscribes to several websites that provide instruction on one of the martial arts. He reads every MMA book he can find. He says he's watched hundreds of YouTube videos in search of techniques he can adapt to his own game.
No one is going to ever mistake him for a technical fighter, though his game has evolved considerably as he applies what he's learned.
"I started out as pretty much an amateur," Belcher said. "I had to start off my career in the UFC and I didn't stop getting better. I've kept getting better. I came in here as an athlete, a strong, aggressive fighter, and I've turned into someone who scientifically breaks down the different disciplines. I consider myself to be an innovator of my style of MMA.
"I'm looking for new techniques and trying to stop things from being stagnant. I'm changing all the time. Every fight, I'm trying different things, new things."
He wants to put those new things he's learned since the loss to Akiyama into practice Saturday and perform in such a way that he makes UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva regret relegating him to the undercard.
He says he won't fight on emotions, but his words betray him.
"I don't fight on emotion, but the mental part of the game is so important," Belcher said. "If you've got more reasons for being in there than just being in there fighting, if you've got something to prove and if you've got a reason you want to win and win in a certain fashion, it makes the fight so much easier for you.
"I can't promise I'm going to win, but there's no way I'm going to give up. There's no way I'm not going to give 100 percent of my effort."
- Alan Belcher