Well, fight week is officially underway, and with UFC 148 being the biggest event of the summer, complete with a fan expo and stacked card, the anticipation is at an almost feverish pitch. One of the fights that seems to be flying under the radar, is John Alessio vs. Shane Roller. Although Alessio had a tough welcome back into the UFC via a loss to Mark Bocek, he put on a gutsy performance, and promises an action packed performance on Saturday night. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, John discussed his upcoming bout, and his thoughts on boring fighters. *When we interviewed John, he was actually doing the interview from a hyperbaric chamber, so that's why we immediately started off with questions about it.*
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.Interviewer: Since you've started using hyperbaric therapy, how big a difference do you notice in your fights?
John Alessio: It just helps with recover times, so when you're busting your ass in the gym all day long, if you can get a couple hours a week in this thing, it will speed up your recovery and speeds the healing of injuries. There are parts where blood and oxygen don't get to as easily, your tendons, ligaments and things like that. When you hurt them, it takes a long time to heal.
The science behind this, is you're in a chamber that's airtight, and they're just pumping tons of oxygen in, so it's supposed to get in the pores and helps to decrease the time on healing. If there are doctors out there that are listening to me, and I'm getting this wrong, I'm sorry that I don't know the exact terms to use, but basically, my doctor says that it speeds up recovery and allows me to push myself that much harder. Whether it's really working, or if it's mental, it doesn't matter, because let's be honest, fighting is 90% mental anyway.
Interviewer: What are your thoughts on Shane Roller?
John Alessio: I want to knock his ass out. Plain and simple, I want to put him to sleep. Of course, sometimes the fight plays out differently, and I would be more than happy to walk away with a decision victory or to submit him, but what I'm aiming for is the knockout. I definitely want to give the crowd what they want to see, and I think they want to see me and Roller stand on our feet and bang it out.I definitely think that I'm the better puncher. He might hit hard, but he's got looping punches, and let's be honest, straight punches land first. I consider myself a good technician on my feet, and I plan on exposing his stand-up for what it really is, which is just a wrestler that throws punches. I want to show him what a good striker can be. I just want to give the crowd the best show possible.
I said that for my last fight, and I fought a boring, Bocek fight. He's not an exciting guy, and I ended up making the fight exciting, so Joe Silva was really happy. I just want to do it again, you know, make the UFC happy and keep my job there. I love working for them, I love fighting, and I'd like to get another fight later on this year for UFC in Canada. They've got a bunch of shows there, so I think they might have room to squeeze me on one of those.
Interviewer: What do you think went wrong for you in the Bocek fight?
John Alessio: It's MMA and he brought his bag of tricks and it worked that night. I was unable to stop the takedowns in the first two rounds, which cost me. Part of that was it was short notice, and I didn't have enough time to get my wrestling on point. I had 18 days, which was basically just enough time to get in shape. It was one of those situations where I just had to go in there and do my best. He did his best and he came out on top.
I'll tell you a little inside story. This was one of the very first times that Joe Silva has ever come into the octagon and congratulated the loser and never said anything to the winner. He came up to me and said, 'Good job' and never said a word to Bocek, just walked back out. I know he was a little upset about that, and Bocek even said in the post fight interview, 'Look, I'm sorry I'm not an exciting fighter.'
This isn't jiu jitsu. We're not just doing jiu jitsu. This is MMA, and you've got to adapt and evolve with the sport. Does he have another fight scheduled yet? I don't think so. [laughs] I did, because I put on a good performance. If I continue to do that, I'll continue to get fights, and maybe he can learn from that.
Interviewer: Your good friend, Gray Maynard, just fought to a decision with Clay Guida recently. What was your opinion on that fight?
John Alessio: Oh my God. I've never seen somebody run so much. [laughs] There's a couple ways to look at this fight. Obviously, I'm happy Gray won, because he's a former teammate and is still a good friend. I watched that fight, and in my completely honest opinion, I thought Clay won three of the five rounds, so in my book, he should win, right? The other side of it, is that he did so much running, that it annoyed me, and I'm glad he lost. At some point, your trainer has to tell you, 'OK, let's stand in the pocket a little bit more. The ref's mad, and you know you're not making friends with Dana White right now. We need to do something here.' When has Greg Jackson ever veered off of a gameplan? They stick to their gameplan, and their gameplan was to stick and move. I don't know if it was to run the way he did.
The thing is, Guida cannot match power with Maynard. Gray can knock you out, and I don't think Guida can knock anybody out. He may be fast on the feet, but he don't hit hard. I understand why he didn't want to stand in the pocket with Gray. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Clay Guida doesn't get another fight for the rest of this year. [laughs]
Interviewer: Are you at the point in your career where you just go in there and let it all go, great performace first and foremost in your mind, basically letting whatever happens, happen?
John Alessio: Absolutely. That's exactly where I'm at now. Chris Lytle took that attitude and ended up having a great career. At some point, he just said, 'Screw it, I'm just gonna go in there, and bang it out, and try to finish my opponent.' After he came to that point, look at all the wars he got into, and how exciting it was.
When I decided to do that to, it was my fight with Ryan Healy. I decided I was just going to go in there and give everybody what they wanted, and that fight ended up being an amazing fight. That's when the UFC called. I went in there with that attitude with Bocek, too, and the UFC was really impressed, even though I lost. It's working out for me. I just want to be a fan favorite.
Interviewer: What do you think of the current state of MMA, especially regarding the increased number of incidents involving steroids?
John Alessio: I think it's ridiculous. Let's be honest. There's no shortcut to the top. Hard work, eat right, have good coaches, that's how you work your way to the top. No drug is gonna make you become a champion.
I've already gone on the record and said that I tried that stuff early on in my career. Some people jumped on me, and some loved me for my honesty. It got me nowhere. Did I become the UFC champion seven years ago? No, I didn't. I have a whole "Rise Above PEDs" campaign going right now. I even have T-shirts coming out for it. For all those young fighters out there, there are no short cuts. It's just hard work.
You don't need TRT. You don't need steroids. I don't understand why people are still doing it. What's it really doing for you? It's a mental thing I guess. I find it to be quite ridiculous. I saw an interview with Shane Roller on MMA Junkie that said, 'Roller decides not to do TRT against doctor recommendation.' This mother effer is the same age as me. He's like, 'Oh, my levels are low because I've been competing for so many years.'
I've been fighting since 1998. That's almost 15 years of mixed martial arts. I was an athlete the whole time I was a kid. I've never once gone to the doctor and said, 'Hey, what are my testosterone levels at?' I don't even want to know. To me, he's setting up excuses as to why he's gonna get knocked the hell out on July 7.