Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Alan Belcher (blue gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (not pictured) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Alan Belcher: ‘I beat Palhares once already, and I can do it again’

Perennial UFC Middleweight contender, Alan Belcher, has been taking time off recently from the sport of MMA. After multiple eye injuries, a two fight losing streak, and other lingering issues, Belcher decided to step away for some time and focus on other things. He most recently fought Michael Bisping at UFC 159 back in April, where he sustained another grisly eye injury in a decision loss. I recently sat down with Belcher to discuss his health, his plan to return, his hopes of grappling against Rousimar Palhares, and much more.

Taking a break from MMA

I am taking a break from MMA and trying to do more grappling. The UFC for me was all about getting to a title shot. That was a challenge to myself, but I got really side tracked and had a bad couple of fights. I feel like I need to take some time off to work on my game and get better. I want to be competitive in grappling in the meantime. It isn’t about the money for me, at all. I have plenty of business deals going on and other things to distract me. The money I made in the UFC was play money to me. I just needed a break.

Metamoris and Rousimar Palhares

The Gracie’s actually contacted me a while back about fighting at Metamoris. It was supposed to be earlier this year, but they pushed it back because we were looking for an opponent. The Gracie’s had mentioned Palhares, and I thought it would be a great opportunity once he released from the UFC. The hype with the Palhares situation is a great opportunity for us. I beat Palhares once already, and I can do it again. I beat his heel hooks, and I am sure a lot of people probably think it will be different in a strictly grappling situation. Of course, it will be, but I think it would be a great challenge for me. A lot of people don’t get chances for rematches, so I am sure he would be excited for it. The fans want it, so let’s do it. I think that Metamoris would be a good spot to get my feet wet, get started in grappling, and move on from there.

UFC Contract, return, and health

I still have a couple fights left on my contract, but right now they know I am taking some time off. I don’t really want to fight until next summer sometime. My eye is healed up from getting cut open in my last fight. That was a bit scary because I have had some issues with my eye. I have really dry eyes, visual migraines, and some other things. Right now, I want to grapple everyday, but I am still not comfortable getting punched in the eyes and face. I am not on extreme conditioning or dieting, or sparring and breaking my body down everyday. I have a list of excuses for me not to fight (laughs). What it boils down to is that my mind is not in it. It is a hazard for me to do MMA, so I need to do some soul searching to get myself back into it. I am sure by the middle of 2014 I will be chomping at the bit and ready to get back in there and go on a streak. I am going to be hell on wheels when I return.

Bisping’s eye injury

I definitely understand what Bisping is going through, and I know how bad it is. I don’t know how he really feels about me, but I like to believe all the talk before our fight was an attempt to hype the fight. I was doing the same thing, so I have no personal issues with Bisping and I would never wish an injury on anybody. I hope he has a good recovery and I am praying for him. Hopefully everything works out for him and he gets back in there. I would love to see him get the title shot or win the title at some point, which will justify why I lost to him.

Nick Diaz vs Michael Bisping

Nick Diaz would get whipped by Michael Bisping. Diaz’s fights are just a joke now. He is a great fighter with a lot of heart, but it seems like he is all publicity. He is always a challenge, but he has loss after loss after loss. That fight would be all hype. I want to hear them talk smack, and hype the fight too. I am obviously interested in the fight like anyone else, but Diaz is all talk. Speaking strictly as an athlete, he can not hang with Michael Bisping. I think Bisping is definitely underrated. The way he moves, he doesn’t look very athletic, but he is one of the hardest guys to beat in the division. His speed and fight IQ is great. He is a challenge for any fighter.

UFC 168: Anderson Silva or Chris Weidman?

I am going to go with Weidman. He is not going to knock him out, I guarantee that, but I don’t think Anderson will have the confidence he needs. Chris Weidman, with the confidence he has right now, is so dangerous. He will be able to take Anderson Silva down at will. The more time that goes by, the older Anderson gets. Everyday that passes is a bigger advantage for Chris Weidman.

Vitor Belfort vs Chris Weidman

Vitor Belfort can’t beat Chris Weidman. Obviously anyone can beat anybody if they are in the top 10 or 20, but Weidman wins 8 or 9 times out of 10 against Vitor. You saw when Vitor fights wrestlers, he gets taken down pretty easily. Even in the fight against Anthony Johnson you saw that. Jon Jones was able to take him down very easily. Chris Weidman is just a different animal when it comes to wrestling.

Favorite Moment

I will never forget when I got my first UFC win in San Diego. I knocked out Jorge Santiago with a head kick. I kind of questioned myself whether I belonged in the UFC at that point. I wanted it really bad, and it was justification when I won. The way that I won was great too. The military was going crazy in the small venue. That was when I solidified myself as a UFC fighter, and I was on that level. I climbed higher and did better things status wise, but that is my most memorable moment.

Favorite Fighter

I don’t have favorites in anything, it is just my personality. I can tell you fighters that I have looked up to though. Chuck Liddell, when he was in his prime with that big winning streak, I really studied his style. His stance and footwork was just beautiful, and he was so important for the sport at that time. BJ Penn is another fighter I have looked up to. The guy is just amazing. As for fighters I watch currently, it is all about my boy Anthony Pettis. He is one of the best fighters to watch. Jose Aldo is also another fighter I love watching, and I would love to see them fight each other.

Tags: Alan Belcher Chris Weidman Michael Bisping UFC UFC 168 Vitor Belfort