It was a storybook night for Alan Belcher who returned at UFC Fight Night 25 after more than a year away from the sport following an eye injury that nearly ended his career.
Belcher suffered a detached retina while in training last year and following two surgeries, he wasn’t sure if he’d even be able to fight again, much less compete on this card.
Not only did he compete, but Belcher put away veteran Canadian fighter Jason MacDonald with strikes in the first round of their bout in New Orleans.
When it was all over, Belcher says he couldn’t have imagined a better ending to the night.
“I couldn’t have dreamed it to be any better. (I’ve) been out for so long. Fighting here in New Orleans, close to home, just an amazing feeling. I was trying to hold back the tears in there,” Belcher said in an interview with UFC.com following the fight.
“It feels good to be back.”
Heading into the bout, it was no secret that MacDonald’s best chance of winning was to get the fight to the ground. He managed to do that by pulling guard on Belcher, but it backfired almost immediately as the Mississippi native absolutely unloaded on MacDonald.
“I hit him with some hard ones so I just started pouring it on stronger, and there at the end I hit him with a pretty hard elbow and his eyes closed for a second and he falls over to his side, and I started reigning down punches and elbows,” Belcher stated.
The end of the fight came when Belcher continued the assault, and MacDonald clearly had enough and verbally submitted.
“He was trying to say ‘okay I give up’ and his back was turned to the ref, so I wanted to make sure the ref heard it so I could get my win, but also to protect him at the same time so I started telling the ref that he was tapping out,” Belcher explained about the finish.
The win now puts Belcher back on track where he was just over a year ago. In a prime spot in the middleweight division, where there is definitely a need for top flight contenders who haven’t already been left in the wake of champion Anderson Silva’s destruction.
Coming back was important to Belcher, but coming back and being a contender was the only way he wanted to do it.
“I don’t want to continue doing unless I put everything into it,” said Belcher. “To continue the goal I was after before. I pretty much just told myself it was all or nothing.
“I gave it all.”