A little more than six years ago a pair of 20-somethings named Alan Belcher and Yushin Okami made their UFC debut in a bout against each other. Fast forward to today and both men are among the top 185-pounders in MMA, each compiling an impressive record including a number of wins over game opponents in the span since.
As might be expected, the outpointing Belcher suffered against Okami still bothers him and has been a prime source of motivation during the march towards their meeting at UFC 155.
“This is the first rematch of my career and that is what really fired me up about doing this fight. It’s against the right person and it is relevant in the rankings,” said Belcher of his December 29 tilt with Okami in an interview with Bleacher Report. “He’s good at what he does but at the same time, it’s very easy to figure out what he’s going to do. He’s very predictable. I have a lot of options with the things I can do. I have a lot of different styles and strategies I use. I have a lot of different ways to beat him where for him to win, he has to keep pressuring me and has to take me down. That’s pretty much it.”
Though Belcher is considered to be part of a small group of contenders with a legitimate claim at facing divisional king Anderson Silva, the 28-year old understands a victory over Okami isn’t likely to score him the title-shot. After all, in a time where championship clashes are awarded in large part due to popularity rather than in-ring accomplishment, Belcher knows he isn’t well-known enough to force Zuffa’s hand.
“It is an interesting time right now. I feel like the UFC is a little bit desperate to make big-money fights, but I don’t really fit into that category right now. It sucks, but we’ll deal with that when it comes. Right now, I have to win this fight and then probably one or two more,” admitted Belcher. “After I beat Yushin Okami, I’m not going to be mad if the UFC doesn’t have me fighting Anderson Silva in February or March. I want to make it realistic. I want to work for it. I want to legitimately beat everyone in the division with no questions asked. That means if I have to beat Hector Lombard, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Chris Weidman, (or) all of them in 2013, that’s what I’ll do.”
Belcher holds an overall record of 18-6 with wins in his last four fights. He was last seen pounding out Rousimar Palhares in the opening round of a May match-up but has been out of action since with a handful of injuries.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC