(Wanderlei vs. Alan will likely happen in April in Toronto since Leben likely won’t be getting across the Canadian border any time soon.)
Alan Belcher got some good news this week regarding the future of his up-in-the-air MMA career.
The UFC 26-year-old middleweight contender was informed by his ophthalmologist during a check-up yesterday that he can resume physical training and that he may get the go-ahead to start light sparring in the coming weeks.
The news came as a welcome surprise for the Biloxi, Mississippi native who suffered a potential career-ending eye injury earlier this year.
"There’s no doubt I miss [training and fighting]; I miss it bad," Belcher told MMAFighting’s Mike Chiappetta today. "I was the kind of guy I’d be training almost every day. You’d have to make me stop because I love it so much. But I did it because it was fun and it makes me feel good about myself. This has been the longest break I’ve taken from training in my entire sports life. I’ve trained every week, almost every day since I was a kid. I started martial arts at eight years old and haven’t missed more than a week, so it was really weird doing nothing for months."
If workouts and cardio training go well, Belcher will have a precautionary check-up with his eye surgeon again to ensure that he can start sparring by the end of the year.
"The Talent’s" recovery has been nothng short of amazing, considering he could barelyt see his hand held in front of his face prior to corrective surgery he had back in September.
"Dr. Semple’s done a real great job being with me every step of the way," he said. "My depth perception has to adjust, but it’s coming back. At first, just walking down the stairs was tricky, it looked like you had to go further, but it’s all coming back. I’m super-happy, it’s really amazing and the news is outstanding."
It didn’t take Alan long to make his way to the gym, but he says, surprisingly, he wasn’t as out of shape as he figured he would be.
"I thought I was totally out of shape but it wasn’t as bad as I thought I was going to be," he said.
When he returns, Belcher (16-6), who is 4-1 in his past five fights, including a heavily-debated decision loss he suffered at the hands of Yoshiro Akiyama, will be a welcome addition to the UFC’s murky looking middleweight contender picture.
Although he still has a few roadblocks to get through before he signs his next bout agreement, Belcher says he would like to be back in action by the UFC’s planned Toronto debut at the end of April and that he would only need about six weeks notice to be ready for a fight if he is given the okay to compete again by doctors.
Prior to his injury, UFC president Dana White praised him for his impressive string of recent victories and named him as one of the UFC’s contenders in the middleweight division thanks in large part to his go-for-broke style that mixes a crisp stand-up game with a solid grappling base.
"I’m always going to show a lot of courage and confidence when I’m in there," he said. "The range that I fight at is where I can hit and hurt my opponent at all times. I don’t run at all. I make the fight happen and the thing I’m going to improve on is making sure I’m winning the fight at all times. I don’t want to go back and forth. I don’t want to have a war. I just want to put a war on my opponent."
Besides earning a much-coveted title shot, Belcher says his main goal is to inject some life back into the waning UFC middleweight division.
"It’s lacking, man. I see it myself, I’ve heard it from a lot of fans. The middleweight division, there are some tough guys, but it’s really lacking someone to come in and fire it up, dominate and be exciting. That’s going to be my spot when I come back in.They need to look out for a totally new fighter coming into the division," Belcher explains. "My whole mindset is changing. I’m working on my mental game, figuring out what it takes to be the best in that division and that’s what I’m going to make happen. I’m going to use this opportunity to come back better and smarter. Don’t expect Alan Belcher to come back slacking or rusty. I will come back better. I will not lose. I will beat whoever is on top, I’ll get my title shot, and I’m going to be be world champion."