Houston Alexander says he won’t have a problem with people bothering him for tickets.
One of the banes of any athlete who happens to play in his or her hometown are family, friends and, worse, casual acquaintances, who beg for a couple of quality complimentary seats.
But Alexander, an Omaha, Neb., resident who is one of the stars on Wednesday’s Ultimate Fight Night 15 card at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, says he’s had no such problems.
Alexander is a disc jockey on Omaha’s KOPW, 106.9 FM, and has learned how to dodge that problem easily.
“It might be hectic, but I’m used to things being hectic,” said Alexander, who will try to end a two-fight losing streak when he meets jiu-jitsu expert Eric Schafer on the Spike TV card. “When you’re a DJ, you have people asking you for free tickets and stuff all the time. But I just say no, because I don’t have any tickets. I don’t have to worry about that hassle, because I honestly don’t have any.”
But there is still going to be a large, and very vocal, crowd filling the auditorium hopeful of seeing a patented Alexander knockout. He emerged at UFC 71 last year with a brutal knockout of Keith Jardine, then followed it with an even more brutal stoppage of Alessio Sakara at UFC 75.
But Alexander was dominated by Thiago Silva at UFC 78 in November and his fight was stopped with Silva pounding him from the mount. That fight exposed the holes in his game on the ground, but he didn’t figure to have such problems when he fought James Irvin on April 2.
Irvin is a standup fighter like Alexander and the bout promised to be an all-out slugfest.
Instead, it was over in a record-tying eight seconds, as Irvin conked Alexander on the chin with the first punch of the fight and ended it with a brief ground-and-pound.
After his wins over Jardine and Sakara, there were calls for Alexander to get a title shot. Now, there are many questioning why the UFC signed him to a recent long-term contract extension.
UFC president Dana White, who isn’t shy about releasing a fighter, was adamant that Alexander needs to turn things around.
“There’s no doubt about that,” White said. “He needs a way. He desperately needs a win. Another loss and he’s going to have to go out and start working his way back up to the UFC.”
Alexander understands what he’s up against, but he’s as adamant as White that he feels no pressure. And though it would seem to have been a cruel matchmaking trick by Joe Silva, the UFC’s vice president of talent relations, putting him in against a jiu-jitsu expert in a fight he absolutely must win, Alexander harbors no ill will.
He does a fairly good job of convincing you it’s actually in his best interest.
“If this is a challenge from Joe to me, I thank him for it because I think it’s a good thing for me,” Alexander said. “And let me tell you something: I’m better at jiu-jitsu and wrestling than a lot of people think. I’ve seen his tapes and he is very good, but I believe I present him some unique problems just as he presents those to me.”
Alexander’s coach, Mick Doyle, wants him to keep a fast pace, which shouldn’t be particularly hard to get Alexander to do.
Asking Alexander to come out hard is like encouraging Usain Bolt to run fast.
“My coach wants me to ratchet up the pressure and fight like I’m a 155-pounder in there,” Alexander said. “That’s what I’m going to try to do. To be honest with you, I’m going in there totally at peace and totally relaxed, because I know I’ve done all I can, I know I’m in good shape and I know I have a good plan. I just need to go out and execute.”