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Raising kids harder than KOing foes for Alexander

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Houston Alexander chuckles and begs you not to make him out to be Superman.

After carefully examining the facts, though, you arrive at the inescapable conclusion that Superman is the perfect nickname for the fast-rising UFC light heavyweight contender.

And no, it's not because of his two knockout victories in his first two UFC fights, which took a combined one minute and 49 seconds, though his victims, Keith Jardine and Alessio Sakara, may be buying into the Superman hype a bit at this point.

And neither is it because of his ability to bench press as much as 450 pounds, or more than twice his body weight, because being a star weight lifter is no guarantee of success as a mixed martial arts fighter.

Alexander, who faces his biggest challenge on Nov. 17 at UFC 78 in Newark, N.J., when he meets Thiago Silva, earns the Superman moniker every day as the single parent of six children.

Taking care of six children between the ages of 5 and 16 is a big enough job for a small squadron of adults. For a guy who has emerged as one of the world's elite light heavyweights, with all the training and business demands that entails, to also be able to cook and clean around the house each day is super hero kind of stuff.

Cooking, cleaning and beating people up makes for a full day.

Admittedly, though, the image of one of mixed martial arts' baddest men pushing a vacuum cleaner and cleaning a toilet is priceless.

"But you tell all those UFC fans, they come to my house and they'll see me pushing that vacuum," he says, laughing. "I'm no different than they are. I have to clean the house, too."

He's already begun to clean house at 205 pounds, one of the UFC's deepest divisions. Alexander made his UFC debut in May, when he took a bout against Jardine on short notice.

At the time, it looked like Jardine was moving inexorably toward a title shot and there was a lot of backlash about the UFC selecting a guy precious few had heard of as his opponent.

Looking back, the hubbub seems ridiculous, but Alexander said he understood the concern.

"They didn't know me," Alexander said of the UFC's fan base. "Keith fought on TV (on the UFC's reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, on Spike TV) and he was well known. There was a way of doing things, where if you beat this guy then you fought that guy type of thing.

"But to a lot of the people, I came out of nowhere. I didn't, really, and I never doubted that I would win that fight. But because people didn't know who I was or what I was capable of doing, they sort of doubted me."

Alexander then went out and caught Jardine with a combination that made a sound so loud it resonated like the casino implosions that have occurred up and down the Las Vegas Strip.

It took only 48 seconds and Alexander was the winner.

"You do that and then all of a sudden, things change a lot for you," Alexander said. "The thing that pleased me, I got another fight (in the UFC)."

And though it took longer, this time, Alexander put those extra 13 seconds to good use. He pulverized Sakara at UFC 75 in London, making the battle of strikers essentially a one-man show.

He returns at UFC 78 with a potential 2008 title shot looming if he can get past Silva. And though Silva is 10-0 and was impressive in defeating Tomasz Drwal at UFC 75, he's facing a totally different type of opponent.

He attacks with a ferocity rarely seen in the fight game.

"If this guy is to beat me, he has to be a terror," Alexander said.

He's seen all kinds in his lengthy fighting career, much of which was completed in obscurity in small towns around the Midwest.

Alexander figures he has around 40 wins, though his official record has him at just 8-1. But regardless of whether the missing fights were non-sanctioned or amateur bouts, they were fights just the same and provided Alexander with the experience to be able to take on the likes of world-class fighters such as Jardine and Sakara.

And though his future will in large part ride upon how he performs against Silva, it's not causing him to lose so much as a wink of sleep.

"Pressure is raising six kids by yourself," Alexander said. "That's pressure. As far as fighting, I'm 35. I've got a lot of fights. However you want to categorize those fights I had, there still was someone standing across from me intending to hurt me. You learn from those – or at least you try – and after you've had a few, you don't feel any pressure.

"My pressure comes from wanting to do the right thing for my kids. I want them to have the best life possible. And there is so much work that has to be done. Fighting is just a job. Kids are work, believe me when I tell you that. You want pressure, that's pressure."