Alan Belcher: No More Talking

"I’m not really thinking about the ranks. I don’t care about what the fans think or how confident Michael is; I’m just thinking about beating him Saturday night." - Alan Belcher
UFC middleweight Alan BelcherTrash talk and boisterous predictions are standard fare in sports.

Someone on one team chirps about their counterpart the day before the big game. A defensive player claims he’s not worried about what the prolific quarterback and the opposing offense is going to do on Sunday. Roughly 487 athletes every year guarantee their team is going to win their league’s respective championship.

This is going to be their year, and they’re going to run over whoever stands in their way.

In some ways, mixed martial arts is no different. Fighters make boastful promises of first round knockouts and wildly entertaining fights, disparaging the person they’ll share the cage with in the future and soft-selling their skills. Some riff on pro wrestlers like “Superstar” Billy Graham or The Grappler, while others try really hard but come up short.

Trash talk isn’t for everybody.

In basketball, hockey, football, or baseball, your predictions and proclamations can be scuttled by poor play around you. Innumerable variables contribute to the end result, and often take the ability to make good on those pre-game promises away from the one doing all the talking.

That why those rare instances where an athlete makes good on their promises stand as iconic moments in their sport’s history. Mark Messier’s three-goal night against the New Jersey Devils. Babe Ruth’s called shot. “Broadway Joe” announcing the Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts.

Most fall flat, and it has gotten to the point that guarantees have become so commonplace and overused that we barely even acknowledge most of them now, other than to shake our heads and laugh at the latest ridiculousness being uttered.

While there are just as many people making just as many promises in mixed martial arts, there is one colossal difference between the fighters talking trash and offering up predictions and their ball-and-stick brethren: eventually, you have to step into the cage and back up your words.

After infinite amounts of talk, Alan Belcher has reached the point where he’s done talking.

For the last several months, across various platforms and mediums, the confident middleweight who fights out of Biloxi, Mississippi has talked a blue streak about Michael Bisping. Even before the two were officially aligned as opponents, “The Talent” freely shared his thoughts and opinions about the tenured middleweight contender who first made his mark by winning season three of The Ultimate Fighter. Once the UFC opted to pit the verbal sparring partners opposite one another at UFC 159, Belcher’s output increased.

There were challenges and bets, NFL defensive linemen wanting to put $300,000 cars up for grabs, and videos mocking everything from the manner in which Bisping speaks to a super-imposed Belcher pointing and laughing as a replay of Dan Henderson’s knockout win over “The Count” at UFC 100 rolled in slow motion.

Usually it’s Bisping who is spitting venom and making the most of every opportunity to mock and prod his opponents heading into a fight, but in the preamble to this weekend’s event at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the man from Orange County, California by way of Manchester, England had been seriously outdone.

Once fight week arrived, however, the two middleweight combatants traded places on the trash talking front.

While Bisping used Monday’s media conference call to land a couple clean verbal jabs on the man he’ll trade actual strikes with on Saturday night, Belcher was reserved. The hyper-confidence that carried his pre-fight videos and blogs was replaced by a voice that sounded contemplative, and answers that were stripped of any and all window dressing.

“It puts me back in the top of the division,” Belcher said flatly when asked where a weekend victory over the perennial contender would put him in the division. “We’re both coming off losses. We’ve both had wins and losses in our career, and now we’re going to see who the best is out of us two. I’m not really thinking about the ranks. I don’t care about what the fans think or how confident Michael is; I’m just thinking about beating him Saturday night.”

Not one to let an opportunity to speak his mind in front of a captive audience, Bisping barged in on the question, giving his own thoughts on what a win would mean for his opponent.

“Let me just add to that,” Bisping began. “A win over me for Alan Belcher would be by far the biggest win of his pathetic career. No one gives a f*** about Alan Belcher.”

Calmly, Belcher replied, “That’s right – so you better not lose to me. We’ll see Saturday night.”

Normally these calls and fight week itself are when the athletes who are about to step into the cage and settle their differences empty out their clips, taking every opportunity they can to get in one more shot. Belcher, it seems, entered fight week in a different frame of mind.

Late in Monday’s media call, the newly minted 29-year-old was tossed the question equivalent of a batting practice fastball right in his wheelhouse.

“Michael has said he’d like to pit his Muay Thai against your Muay Thai in the center of the cage. What do you think about that?” floated out over the center of the plate. Here you go, Alan; park this one in the left field seats.

“I welcome it. What am I supposed to say to it?” Belcher responded somewhat sheepishly. “My Muay Thai versus Michael Bisping’s? I’m supposed to sit here and say, “My Muay Thai is better than his,” but no one is going to know until Saturday night.”

Though some may view the answer as a wasted opportunity – a weakly hit ball back to the mound on a pitch that begged to be blasted into the second deck – the fact that it was devoid of the moxie and swagger that carried his commentary leading up to this fight speaks to the difference between guarantees in most sports, and making promises in the fight business.

All the talking in the world doesn’t mean much if you can’t back it up when the cage door closes. While it’s great for drawing attention to the bout, putting a few more butts in seats, and selling a couple more pay-per-views this weekend, there comes a point when the tickets are sold, the people are hyped, and all that remains is going about the business of backing up everything you’ve said over the last two or three months.

The time for talking is over.

Now it’s time to fight.

Watch Past Fights

토요일, 9월 5
Las Vegas, Nevada


UFC Minute 진행자 리사 포일스가 홀리 홈과 이야기를 나눴다. 그리고 론다 로우지와의 경기가 발표된 후 미샤 테이트와 어떤 이야기를 나눴는지도 공개된다.
2015. 9. 3
메건 올리비가 플라이급 챔피언 드미트리우스 존슨과 자리를 함께 했다. 존슨은 UFC 191 대회에서 7차 타이틀 방어전을 앞두고 있다. 존슨의 체급지배력, 상대인 존 도슨에 대해서 솔직한 이야기가 오갔다. UFC 191 대회는 PPV로 이번 토요일 방송된다.
2015. 9. 2
드미트리우스 존슨과 존 도슨이 1차전 영상을 지켜본 후 상대방의 기술을 어떻게 파악했는지 설명한다. 양 선수는 라스베이거스에서 이번 토요일 열리는 UFC 191 대회에 출전해 2차전을 치른다. 대회는 PPV로 시청할 수 있다.
2015. 9. 2
UFC 191 대회로 향한 길은 프랭크 미어, 페이지 벤전트, 알렉스 챔버스, 드미트리우스 존슨 등의 선수들이 막바지 팀 훈련을 실시하는 장면으로 채워진다. UFC 191 대회는 토요일 라이베이거스에서 열리며 PPV로 감상할 수 있다.
2015. 9. 1