by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Houston Alexander returns to the Ultimate Fighting Championship after suffering his first defeat in the Octagon, to Thiago Silva, when he takes on “The Sandman” James Irvin on April 2 in Broomfield, Colo. He had entered the UFC with a bang, destroying MMAWeekly.com’s No. 5 ranked light heavyweight Keith Jardine in a stunningly fast knockout.
The UFC put Alexander up against Alessio Sakara in his second bout and he once again knocked out his opposition, proving that he is indeed for real. It seemed that the promotion had a budding new contender in its 205-pound division. Unfortunately, “The Assassin” ran into Thiago Silva at UFC 78, where succumbed to strikes.
Alexander looks to put himself back on the winning track in a few weeks and claims he is more than ready to go. “I’m ready to get back in the ring,” he commented to MMAWeekly Radio. “I’m excited for this next card because they stacked it up.”
He hasn’t fought since November and believes that extra time has helped him prepare better for the fight against Irvin. “I’m more ready than I ever have been in any MMA fight. I’m a lot stronger. I’m a lot faster. It might be scary.”
Believing that the extra time will only help him, Alexander had fought four times in just eight months and his last two fights were only two months apart. “I probably needed the rest, because I’ve been going non-stop training since last March. I feel good about just now coming back,” he said.
Irvin is a tough opponent and he has one of the UFC’s best highlight-reel knockouts when he took out Terry Martin with a flying knee. Alexander recognizes the danger that his opponent possesses. “James looks very athletic. He looks like a brawler. He’s one of those guys who are real dangerous. He’s a pretty good wrestler too, so he’s an all-around good fighter. These guys in the UFC are on the national scale for a reason. They aren’t pushovers.”
Even though Irvin is known primarily for his striking, that doesn’t mean that Alexander believes that this may be a “striking only” bout. “I just have to be ready for anything,” he explained. “You might get a guy who loves to stand up; his coach might tell him to wrestle you. You have to be ready for anything in a fight.”
He makes a very good point, considering what Georges St. Pierre did to Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes or how we saw Chuck Liddell shoot a double-leg takedown on Wanderlei Silva.
The question most fighters get asked after a loss is how they’ve recovered mentally. Alexander believes that he is fully focused and ready to go for this fight. “I was mentally prepared for the last fight. You make a mistake with any of these guys and you’re going to lose. My mentality right now is the same mentality I carry into every fight. I think I’m more sharpened this time around because I’ve had more time to prepare for this one.”
The April 2 UFC Fight Night card is probably the most stacked televised card ever on Spike TV. In fact, the network decided to make this card a three-hour telecast instead of the standard two hours.
Alexander and Irvin is scheduled to be the leadoff fight for the televised card and that idea has the Omaha, Neb.-based fighter extremely excited to go out and put on an exciting performance. “It’s gonna be wonderful because I’ll be the first one on television. I talked to Joe Silva and he said, ‘You’re gonna be the first fight out.’ And I said, ‘No problem. We’ll start off your fight night!’ We’ll definitely get it going for those guys. We’ll get it pumped up,” exclaimed Alexander.
Although he isn’t one to predict the majority of his fights, Alexander did have this to say, “It’s going to be really interesting. Again, I’ve got a lot faster and a lot stronger if that can be possible. I’m going to go after the guy. If that guy’s not ready for me to come out fast against him, he’s gonna get hurt.”