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· Houston Alexander ~ Drill, Baby, Drill

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 02/17 at 05:00 PM

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Houston ‘the Assassin’ Alexander, looking to rebound from three consecutive losses, recently took time to sit down with us at and talked about his future in MMA, how he plans to improve his game, and why he considers himself blessed to be doing something he loves. Also see his thoughts on steroids, greasing, and self-sacrifice.


MD: How are you doing, Houston?
HA: Doing fine. I’m just up here doing my radio show in about a half an hour.

MD: Alright, we’ll try to make this quick for you. How did you get started in MMA?
HA: When I got started, it was on a dare. There was a weekly event that was in town here (Omaha), and my friend told me they were having them. I had kind of wrestled and boxed around, and I was an athletic guy coming out of high school. I signed up for one of the fights, and ended up winning it and the rest is history. I started training in Iowa, and started fighting every single week almost. MMA was relatively new maybe eight or nine years ago, but I just liked being in the action. I’ve always fought ever since I was a kid, so fighting for me was nothing.

MD: You have your next fight scheduled to take place on May 23rd at UFC 98 against Andre Gusmao. What are your thoughts on Gusmao, and how do you see that fight playing out?
HA: From the film we’ve seen, and from talking to my coaches, he’s probably one of the most athletic guys that I’m going to be facing. He’s really good on his feet. He likes to put people on the ground quick, so he’s probably one of the better guys I’ll be facing athletically.

MD: So you definitely want to keep that fight standing, and you’ll be working on your takedown defense then?
HA: You know, right now we’re preparing for either or. The plan was for me to get better, and I’ve gotten probably ten times better. It doesn’t matter where it goes, as a professional MMA fighter you’re supposed to be ready for anything, whether it goes to the ground or standing up.

MD: Great, I’m looking forward to seeing that.
HA: Oh yeah.

MD: Another thing about this fight is that it’s taking place in Las Vegas. It’ll be your first fight there since knocking out Keith Jardine at UFC 71. How do you feel about fighting in Vegas again?
HA: You know actually fighting out of town period is a good thing, because there were a lot of distractions in my last fight because I was in my hometown. I like it when I leave, because I think I’m more focused when I’m out of town.

MD: I’m actually glad you brought that up, because that was going to be my next question. Being from Omaha I was really excited to see you on the card, and the crowd went insane when you were introduced.
HA: Yeah, it was a great reception and I hated the way it turned out, but we’re working on making myself a better fighter.

MD: Do you think being in Omaha in front of your friends and family affected your performance a little bit?
HA: No, I don’t think so. I got injured a few times before the fight, and I’m not the type of guy that will whine about it, so I never worried about it before and I’m not worried about it afterwards. I got myself in a bad position. I’m not supposed to be in a bad position, the end. There was nothing mental about it with my family or friends. It was just a bad position.

MD: You’re going to turn 37 in March, and you’ve had 13 professional fights in your career so far. Looking back, how do you feel about your career up to this point?
HA: You know I would be lying if I said I was satisfied. I’m not satisfied, because I know early in this career, especially on this type of stage, it’s still early for me and I’m still relatively young. I just feel like I’m getting better, and a lot of those guys have already peaked. With me getting better I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I’m learning different things, and it’s a lot better for me now because I have more room to grow; whereas a lot of those guys have already peaked.

MD: So being 37 is just a number, and when it’s about wear and tear, you’re relatively young?
HA: Exactly. I’m probably in better shape than some 18-year olds coming out of high school. Physically I feel like I’m in better shape than I have ever been in, and that’s the God’s honest truth.

MD: Depending on the outcome of that Gusmao fight coming up, how soon would like to get in there again, and who do you think that fight might be against?
HA: I plan on winning the fight in Vegas. That’s my plan, and that’s what I’m telling myself every single day. I would love to fight anyone who is a top fighter in the world. I’ve said this time and time again, but I wouldn’t mind fighting Anderson Silva. He is at the top of the game. I wouldn’t mind fighting any of those guys that are at their peak or at the top of their game right now, because if you want to get better you have to fight the guys that are at the top of their game. Machida, any of those guys. Any of those guys that are in the top five, I want to go up against.

MD: You’re a very chiseled 205-pounder. Have you ever given any consideration to moving up to heavyweight or possibly down to middleweight, and how do you think you would fare in those divisions, respectively?
HA: I have never given any thought about moving up or down. I’ve fought guys twice my size for the past seven years, so going up in weight would be nothing to me. I actually have a problem with going down in weight, because I don’t think it’s healthy. Right now I’m walking around at 209, so at 209, I’m good. I’m right at weight, and 205 is my natural weight. I’m just fine where I’m at.

MD: Which current or retired fighter do you look up to, and most try to model your style after?
HA: I’ve always been a big Tito fan. For me, it was actually Tito who got the UFC recognized. He had the bad boy image. A lot of guys were scared of him when he was first on the scene. He was a very good model for MMA, starting off in the UFC and actually helping to brand their product. He was a good rep.

MD: Yeah, he was a very aggressive, very polarizing fighter.
HA: Yep. You either loved him or you hated him, but you still talked about him. So it’s love me or hate me, but respect me and keep my name out there.

MD: Quite a few MMA fans have talked in the past about a fight between you and the current LHW champion of the UFC, Rashad Evans. Is that a fight you would interested in? How would you rate your chances of winning that fight, and what would be your strategy going in?
HA: Everyone has a 50-50 chance. Everyone has a puncher’s chance, and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that before. I think Rashad and I match up pretty well. You have two guys who are really athletic. Two guys that actually punch hard, and two guys that actually move pretty well. It would be a really good match up. It’s hard to call, but I would love to get in the ring with Rashad. I’m never scared of any of these fighters. Just believe that I don’t care who it is. I’ve been fighting guys twice my size for the past eight years, so getting in the ring with a guy who is 205 is wonderful to me.

MD: I can appreciate that confidence. It’s not coming off as cocky, you just want to challenge yourself athletically.
HA: Yeah, you don’t just want to face guys that you’re going to just walk over, because that’s no fun. You want to be in the ring with the best.

MD: Regardless of who the current titleholder is, who do you feel is the best LHW in the world right now?
HA: You know Rashad Evans, right now, really has the total package. He’s a great wrestler, and he’s improved his punching over the years. You’re just not going to take him down, so I think overall they got it right this time. He’s kicked people and knocked them out. He’s knocked them out with his fists, and he’s taken people down. Right now, he’s probably the one with the total package.

MD: Pound For Pound is always a heated topic amongst fans, journalists, and fighters. Who do you consider to be the best Pound For Pound MMA fighter in the world and why?
HA: Right now, if you had to go Pound For Pound and you have to put the guy up against anyone, it would have to be Anderson Silva. He’s flip-flopped from 185 to 205 already, so it’s going to be interesting to see if he keeps going at the rate he’s going from 185 to 205. Right now, he’s proven that no one can even get in their and challenge him. He might be the best Pound For Pound fighter.

MD: Usually people say Fedor, then it’s between Anderson, GSP, and BJ Penn…
HA: If you took GSP and Anderson Silva against each other, that would probably be one of the better fights you would ever see. GSP walks around at close to 200 pounds. That would be a great fight to see those to guys go at it, but I still think that Anderson Silva has an edge. He has an edge, and you know I haven’t really seen Fedor fight, so I’m going to go with Anderson.

MD: With all of the turmoil baseball has been going through regarding steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, do you see that being a big problem in MMA or do you think most fighters are doing it the right way?
HA: I think most of the fighters are trying to keep it clean and do it the right way. No one wants the reputation of being the roided out guy. No one wants to be the guy that’s known as a guy who does roids. No one wants to be labeled as that guy, so I think a lot of people are doing it the old-fashioned way and working for it. There are too many legal supplements out there that help people out to where you don’t have to go there [use roids or PEDs].

MD: We obviously know that you’re a very strong and powerful striker. What do you feel is the most underrated part of your game?
HA: Well, you know what - my wrestling. I think it’s the same with any wrestler. I’ve never even had to go to my back, so it’s just the adjustment of having to do that. I’ve been so strong with my striking and kicking and all of that. I’ve rarely had to go to the ground in any situation of training. So right now it’s more of drilling, drilling, drilling that, because you still have to deal with the guys who loved to do that. Versus before I even got to the UFC, I never had to worry about that. Now with me drilling, drilling, drilling every single day, I’m going to be more prepared. Drilling, drilling, drilling every day. It would be my wrestling, because I’m known in the amateur circuits for slamming people on their necks, so a lot of people just don’t know that. Once I find a groove they’ll soon find out.

MD: Where do you currently train? I know you’re trainer is Mick Doyle, so I’m wondering are you still at that gym or have you brought in some jui-jitsu coaches to help you with grappling?
HA: Mick Doyle is still my coach, and we’re currently working with some people in Colorado. I’m still doing some things out there in Chicago, so we’re just trying to go all over the place. You have to get in, and you have to drill. That’s the key, because everyone is doing the exact same things. Everyone is doing jui-jitsu, everyone is grappling, everyone is boxing. It’s the time you have to put into drilling. You have to drill your boxing, you have to drill your jui-jitsu, you have to drill your grappling. You have to drill all of that, so it doesn’t matter where you go because if you’re not drilling, you’re not working.

MD: So repetition is your main focus right now?
HA: That’s it. A lot of reps on the ground, a lot of reps in the ring. There is not one day that goes by where I’m not sparring.

MD: There are a ton of really good fighters coming out of the Midwest. Does it have to do with the work ethic or the ambition to compete? What do you think is the driving force behind that?
HA: We have a lot of great fighters coming out of here. You’re right, because of our work ethic, and because of the values that we have here. We have a lot of good wrestlers coming out of this area, and of course we have Golden Gloves coming out this area, too. We have a history of a lot of great fighters coming out of this area. It’s no mystery that we have very athletic people here, but now you have a lot of these kids who are coming up who are actually doing mixed martial arts. They’re coming out of high school and training. They’re training in every aspect.

MD: In 2000, you donated one of your kidneys to your daughter. People always talk about giving their life for loved ones, and doing anything to help them in times of need. Tell us what goes into that thought process. Did you gain any new perspective on life, or was it just something that needed to be done?
HA: There was no thought process. You do it or you do it. There was no thought process. When your child needs something like that, you don’t think about it. You get your butt right under the knife and get it done. That’s what I did. There was no thinking about it, just take it.

MD: And is she healthy now?
HA: She’s doing great, she’s doing fine. She’s doing wonderful, and she’s just being a teenager.

MD: The Culture Shock Tour is something you appear to take great pride in. Tell us a little bit about that, and how you got started with it. What are your goals for that program going forward?
HA: I work for a radio station, and we were looking for ways to cater to the community. It was something I had in mind before I even got in the radio business. Going to schools and teaching the kids about hip-hop culture. A lot of kids that are growing up, know nothing about the period. We want to go in and teach these kids about the culture, because they still think that Soulja Boy was one of the first rappers ever. They don’t know anything about the culture itself versus just rap, because rap is just one aspect of the culture. We go in and teach them about the pioneers and teach them about the proper aspects of the hip-hop culture.

MD: What do you when you aren’t fighting or training? How do you get away from the sport, and what do you do in your leisure time?
HA: Well, in all of my leisure time I’m still taking kids to school. I’m still going to different events that they have at school, and I like to go and surprise my kids. I like to go and check on them when I’m not training. After all of the training is done, I love lying down and sleeping. That’s my pastime right there. Relaxing, the most soulful thing you can ever do. I also enjoy pool. I’m a pool shark, so I enjoy pool. Relaxing with my kids, and playing pool, I’m real simple. I’m like Lionel Ritchie, I’m easy like Sunday morning.

MD: I know you’re relatively young as far as how you feel physically. What do you think you will do when you’re fighting career is over?
HA: Well, I am doing radio. I’m here now at my radio show, and I’ve always enjoyed doing radio, but just getting involved more in the community. Any type of community organization. Once the career is over just give back to the community that actually helped me in this whole entire career I’ve had. Giving back is primarily what I want to do. Whether it’s training other kids that are coming up, that’s what I want to do. I want to give back to the community. It sounds cliché, but I’ve been doing stuff in my community for 20 years now, and doesn’t bother me.

MD: I just want to get your opinion on what has been a hot topic lately. Your fight against Todd Allee was ruled a no contest due a little controversy with “greasing”. I wanted to get your opinion; in light of the fallout from the BJ Penn-Georges St. Pierre fight regarding the allegations that came from that. What did you think of that fight, and how do you think commissions should regulate the use of Vaseline, because it’s kind of loosely defined?
HA: Well, I don’t think greasing was a problem in that fight at all. In my particular fight, this guy greased his whole body down. He was greased down from head-to-toe. I don’t know anything about the BJ Penn-GSP fight as far as greasing. I really never heard that information afterwards. Once I watch a fight, that’s it, I don’t want to hear anything else about it. My situation was the guy greased himself down from head-to-toe. Then after the fight, the guy was bone dry, so it is really funny that people have to do stuff like that. If they’re protecting the fighters by greasing their faces down in the beginning, I have no problem in doing that. I just have a problem with the greasing of the body. That’s all I would say about the whole matter. Of course you’re not supposed to grease your body, but if they’re trying to protect the fighter’s face, I have no problem with that. You should not grease your body at all, period. This is not a bad porn. You don’t grease your body.

MD: I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with us at Being from Omaha, it’s a real pleasure to get to know one of the prominent figures in the city. I look forward to your fights coming up, and I wish you the best of luck. Is there anything you would like to say, or anyone you would like to acknowledge before we wrap this up?
HA: I try to be a good person. There is no reason for a guy, in my situation, to be mad. There is no reason at all when the fans are the ones who are paying your salaries. That’s why anyone asking for an autograph, or anyone asking for a little part of me, that’s a blessing. A lot of guys don’t see that. I worked construction for ten years. Now, I can go back to doing construction, or I can go back to training and doing what I want to do. You have to respect that fact; that the fans are the ones that made you, and I respect that 100%. Those guys are helping me pay bills and helping me feed my kids, so anyone asking anything of me, we’re good. I’m good with that. All I’m doing is being me. I want to thank all of my sponsors that have helped me the last couple of years. I want to thank my gym, and Mick Doyle. I want to thank my family, and again, I want to thank the fans. If it weren’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be talking to you guys today.**

by Matthew DeMarinis
special thanks Thomas Caldwell

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