Following a two-year patch without a win in four bouts, lightweight veteran John “The Natural” Alessio got back on the winning track last year with a unanimous decision victory over Eric Wisely in his second bout with Bellator.
“It was a tough couple years with losses and some injuries, so it’s really nice to get back on the winning side of things” Alessio told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m just going to build off of that and keep that momentum going. I’m feeling great and I’m ready to get back to work.”
Even though he has 17 years of MMA experience, Alessio feels like he can still evolve as a fighter and continues to do so.
“Yes, I do have core things that I like to do that work great for me, but it’s always about progressing,” said Alessio. “I’ve been working with K-1 fighter Dewy Cooper and he’s really stepped me outside that box and expanded my striking game and added more tools and sharpened them all up.”
Alessio (35-17, 1 NC) will look to pick up his second straight win in Bellator when he takes on former 155-pound title contender David Rickels (16-3) on Friday in Mulvane, Kan.
“He’s a tough, in-your-face type of fighter, who likes to get down and dirty in there – this is great for me,” said Alessio of Rickels. “I want a guy who is going to want to stand and bang, or if we do go to the ground will try to work the jiu-jitsu game and not just try to hold on.
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“I feel like sometimes he’s overly aggressive and makes mistakes, and with me being a counter-puncher, I can capitalize on those mistakes. He does punch in volumes and comes hard, but as much as that can be a strength for him, it can also be a weakness.”
While Alessio, 35, doesn’t intend on retiring anytime soon, he is mindful of the fact that he can’t fight forever, so he wants to make the most of his opportunity in Bellator before moving on to other things in life.
“There’d be nothing more that would make me happier than putting that Bellator belt on,” said Alessio. “Getting that rematch with Will Brooks, carrying that gold then riding off into the sunset would be the ultimate way to leave this sport, but I have fights left in me.
“I want to fight and have fun again. It became a job for a while there, it was something I did to pay the bills, but now I don’t need to do that so much, so now I’m fighting because I love it and I can’t wait to get in there.”
(Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA)