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The UFCjunkie.com interview: Houston Alexander, part 2

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Part two of UFCjunkie.com’s interview with Houston Alexander, heading up to his UFC 75 match with Alessio Sakara on Saturday. Part 1 is available here.

Eric Foster: Can you talk a little bit about who specifically you’re training with for this fight? Obviously, you’re there training with Mick Doyle and Curlee Alexander, but have you gone outside the area? Have you brought in new people to roll with since your last fight?

Houston Alexander: We’ve mostly stayed with the team from the last fight. Most of the people we have in our gym are champions already. Tim Gorham just won the U.S. title in Muay Thai like a month ago. Bryan Corley is a world champion kickboxer. The guys we have in house are great guys I’ve been dealing with since I got here – like Willie Stewart and Curlee Alexander.

Mick Doyle: We did bring in one guy who’s a good friend of mine, Bob Schirmer from Illinois. Bob is one of the best-kept secrets in MMA. He was the first American to beat a Gracie (and an inductee in the NAGA Grappling Hall of Fame -P). Bob and I actually fought back in 1999 or so in a bare-knuckle match. But we became really good friends, and his ground game is crazy. He’s just phenomenal. We had him in working with us, just kind of tweaking some things. And then Nebraska is a hotbed of wrestling so we have a couple phenomenal All-American wrestlers who come into the gym. We try to keep it in house as much as possible.

Eric Foster: Last time at UFC 71, you were on a pay-per-view card. Do you feel any different going on a card that’s going to be on Spike TV and possibly being seen a wider audience?

Houston Alexander: I’m excited for the UFC fans to actually see me. If more see me than last time, that’s even better because it just gets me more excited to be in the ring. But other than that, I’m cool. It’s just like any other fight to me.

Eric Foster: Can we get a quick take from you guys on some of the other fights scheduled for UFC 75? What do you see with Dan Henderson vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson?

Mick Doyle: I think Rampage is great for the UFC. I think he’s a great character, and having a guy like him as the champion will continue to build the brand. I like Henderson in this fight. I’d love to see Rampage win, but I think I like Henderson just because I think Henderson’s game is just a little bit more well rounded. I think Rampage in the past hasn’t been able to adjust within a fight as well. But Rampage has a better team around him now, so its tough to call. I think this sport needs a social guy like Rampage as the poster boy though.

Eric Foster: Another fight there at light heavyweight that might have impact on you guys: Matt Hamil vs. Michael Bisping. Do you guys have specific interest in that fight?

Mick Doyle: Our fight and the Rampage fight are the ones that interest me. The other pieces will fall where they will. The light heavyweight division is stacked. On any given day there’s probably a half a dozen guys who could be champion. I also think they’re probably not going to be champion for too long, because the division is so stacked. Something like Keith underestimates Houston, or Chuck drops his hands trying a body shot that he wouldn’t normally do, with the talent pool in the light heavyweight division you make one screw up and you’re done, you lose that fight. I think you’ll see a lot of turnaround at the top of the division for a couple years to come. Which is great for somebody like us.

Eric Foster: I know you guys don’t want to look past Sakara in the slightest, but let’s say you do put on another dominant performance and roll through Sakara. What would you guys like to happen next? Play Joe Silva, and tell us what would you like to see for Houston next.

Houston Alexander: A vacation. (laughs)

Mick Doyle: (laughs) Ultimately we want a title shot, but not right away. Not before we renegotiate our contract. (laughs) When we fight Rampage or whoever for the title, they’ve gotta pay this guy. We understand we’ve got to prove that this wasn’t a flash in the pan, that he’s got to earn his stripes, and that’s all great. I think Houston is just going to get better and better, and I’d say a year from now this man is going to be dangerous.

Sam Caplan: He’s dangerous now, man. (laughs)

Mick Doyle: As his coach, I look at the total game and what the other guys are doing. You know it’s not going to be enough for me (or) for him to just win the belt. I want him to defend it. You’ve got to have an incredible game at that point. I know we’re not there yet, but in six months to a year, it’s a different animal you’re going to have here.

Houston Alexander: A lot of people gave me a lot of flack when you asked me who I would like to fight next and I said Rampage. (Houston is referring to the post-fight video interview UFCjunkie.com conducted after UFC 71, see: “UFCjunkie.com Exclusive: UFC 71 post-fight interview with Houston Alexander”). And that’s true, you know? Who wouldn’t want to fight for the title? Who wouldn’t want to fight the top guys in the world? So for all the fans out there who got mad because they thought I was arrogant enough to say Rampage – that’s what I feel. I wouldn’t mind fighting the best fighters in the world. I want to fight guys who take it to the next level. Rampage, Henderson, all those guys are on another level. I’ve been fighting for seven years, so why wouldn’t I want to fight the top guys in the world to see where I stand? Eric Foster: Houston did you have a chance to see any of UFC 74? Were you able to see the (Renato) Sobral-(David Heath) fight where he held on to the choke after the fight was stopped?

Houston Alexander: I didn’t watch it because I was probably training or probably resting from training. (laughs) I didn’t get a chance to watch it, but I heard about it. If the ref is telling you to stop choking a guy, you’ve got to stop choking a guy to death. If I would have continued to keep hitting Keith after the ref tried to stop me, I would have been really wrong in the situation, and I would have expected to have some kind of sanction on me. That’s crazy. You’ve got someone’s life in your hands when you’re doing that, so if the ref tells you to stop, you’ve got to stop.

Sam Caplan: When Eric brought up the Bisping vs. Hamill match, those guys came up through “The Ultimate Fighter” TV show. At any point did you ever try to send in a video or apply for the show?

Houston Alexander: I think I told Eric before, I never used to watch the UFC. And when I tell people that, I don’t mean any disrespect to the sport or the organization, but I never used to watch the UFC. I was doing what I was doing here in Nebraska. My camp was my priority, and the UFC was way down the priority list.

Eric Foster: Houston, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today. Any messages for your fans?

Houston Alexander: Just want to let the fans out there know I appreciate all the love I’ve received from them. And I really appreciate what you guys at UFCjunkie.com have done for us. People really didn’t know us before the fight took place until your story broke. So I appreciate you guys covering me before anybody else. To all my fans and family and friends and to all my sponsors, I appreciate all the love I’ve been given so far. Even though I’ve only had one fight in the UFC, I’ve received a lot of love from everyone.

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