by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
Alan ‘The Talent’ Belcher promised everyone before his UFC 77 fight with Kalib Starnes that fans would see a new and improved fighter when he made his way into the Octagon. From the opening bell, Belcher, a native of Biloxi, Miss., picked apart Starnes on his feet, even dropping his hands at one moment taunting the Canadian to take a swing at him.

Starnes fought a gutsy fight on that cold Cincinnati night, but early into the second round, Belcher opened a huge cut on his forehead that immediately began oozing blood. The cut prompted the referee to have the ringside doctors look at the gash to determine whether Starnes could continue the contest.

At 1:39 of the second round, though, it was determined that he could not and the TKO victory was awarded to the Mississippian.

Belcher joined MMAWeekly radio recently to discuss his next fight, a match with Renzo Gracie Jiu-jitsu wizard Ricardo Almeida. Almeida hasn’t fought since 2004, but before his hiatus from the ring he was on a tear, winning decisions over Pride veterans Kazuo Misaki and Ryo Chonan, and submitting former Ultimate Fighting Championship title contender Nate Marquardt by guillotine choke.

Belcher admitted to MMAWeekly that fighting someone coming off such a lengthy layoff is a bit strange, but he is confident that he is prepared to win regardless of the condition in which Almeida returns.

“I’m preparing for him to stand with me at the front … I know what he’s going to do,” said Belcher. “I don’t know how good he’s going to be, I don’t know how efficient he’s going to be, if he’s going to be way slicker than he used to be or what … I don’t know. Who knows? That’s the question.”

He continued, “It’s weird, it really is. You can only prepare as though he’s better than he was before and if he shows any ring rust or anything like that, it’s just going to be trouble for him … I feel I have an advantage. I’m not counting on it, but probably so.”

He knows one thing for sure though. “I’m going into this fight knowing that it’s going to be hard; it’s going to be a test for me.”

Much as he did leading up to his fight with Starnes, Belcher has been persistently working on his overall conditioning during his training camp.

“My speed and my strength and everything is like retarded right now. In this camp I was just concentrating on explosiveness and speed, and I think that I’m going to be the best athlete in the sport.”

Belcher continued, “You’re going to see a whole different person than my old fights. Of course Almeida, in my opinion, is a lot tougher than Kalib. Not tougher, but a better competitor than Kalib Starnes, so it’s going to be difficult.”

He concluded by saying, “I really want to knock this guy out. If you really want to know how I feel about this fight, I need a knockout really bad. I can taste it. I haven’t gotten the kind of knockout that I want. I want to just be dominant. I want to just drop him.”

So with his training camp winding down and his conditioning exercises now complete, this young talent has but one more question to answer. How does he see his fight with Almeida going down?

“The prediction to all of the millions of MMAWeekly Radio listeners … I have to say, Ricardo’s gotta go in one minute and 11 seconds of the first round. I have been shown signs and ‘111′ is the number. KO. Anchor punch.”