by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Houston Alexander entered the Octagon at UFC 71 in the role of the underdog. Forty-eight seconds and 20-plus unanswered strikes later, Alexander propelled himself from relative unknown to legitimate threat. The Omaha, Nebraska resident made his successful UFC debut dominating Keith Jardine.
Houston’s performance could best be described as relentless. The 35-year old fighter unloaded a barrage of short right hooks, knees and uppercuts that crumbled his opponent in impressive fashion. “The way we fight, from the area where I’m from, we don’t let off. We train to do that,” said Alexander. “If he wasn’t going to go down with the first four or five hits, he was going to get hit with another ten or fifteen. The whole game plan was to stay on him and test his chin; see if he could hold up.”
Early in the opening round, Jardine landed a right to the body followed by a straight left to the head of Alexander that seemed to hurt and stagger him back. In the post fight interview, Houston stated that it was a slip. “I actually did slip. I went for a leg kick and I saw him come around with that big right,” explained Alexander. “I tried to avoid the big right and ended up going backwards a little bit and he grazed my head. I slipped from it and I ended up recovering from it. It was more like a tap.”
During his flurry of unanswered strikes, Houston displayed his powerful yet accurate punches, highlighted by two textbook uppercuts. “A lot of people in the UFC don’t do uppercuts. The term ‘striking’ to me is another term for boxing. We wanted to box this guy and test his chin. If he wanted to wrestle, we would have wrestled with him. If he wanted to grapple, we would have grappled with him. Wherever he took it, that’s where I would have taken it. He just happened to want to box. I’m one of the best boxers around in this area so he took it to the wrong stage [laughs]. We happened to be victorious with it,” elated the father of six children.
To make it to the UFC is a dream for most fighters. Some are successful in their debut while others are less fortunate. For the latter, those fighters have claimed that nervousness contributed to their loss. “I’ve been fighting for seven years. I had no nerves. I’ve learned to control those nerves. The mental aspect of the game is something a lot of people don’t take seriously. I take it very seriously.”
2007 has been a year of upsets. Add Alexander’s destruction of Keith Jardine to the list. So what’s next for Houston?
“We want to keep it consistent until we get that call [from the UFC],” commented the Nebraska radio DJ. “If we get the call next week, we’ll be ready. We’re going to keep training until I get that next call. I know it’s going to be sooner than later.”
After making an impressive Octagon debut, Houston Alexander looks to make an impact in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Along the way, his modest personality and exciting style will surely garner him some new fans. “Without the fans, we wouldn’t be anything. I give much love to the fans. Anybody that asks me for a picture or an autograph…I could be tired coming out of training but I’ll make sure they get it.”