This is number seventy-two in Jack’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature veteran MMA fighter, Houston Alexander. Alexander had an impressive debut in the UFC with a first round knockout of Keith Jardine back at UFC 71. A journeyman fighter in recent years, Alexander fights this Saturday, July 27th, in the headliner for Victory FC 40, in Omaha, Nebraska. He will be facing Chuck Grigsby for Victory's light heavyweight championship. Please enjoy the conversation below.
Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?
Houston Alexander: My first experience was in a club, on a dare. I fought a guy that was a wrestler. It was so smokey in the bar that I couldn't even breathe. But I won and the promoters wanted me back.
JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, a submission loss back in 2001, and how prepared do you feel you were at the time?
HA: I was semi-prepared. I had no idea about the experience level. I was still learning. I was beating the guy up, but I lost because of the experience the other guy had. I got tired in the end because I didn't know anything about the experience.
JB: You rebounded from that loss by getting a victory two weeks later, and then you stayed undefeated after that, right through your UFC debut in 2007. How did you evolve as a fighter during that early part of your career and what helped you to be so successful?
HA: I was learning more about MMA in general. It was a process. I was just learning everything, learning and drilling, learning and drilling. I had better mental preparation and physical preparation.
JB: You debuted in the UFC, at UFC 71, with a highlight reel, first round knockout of Keith Jardine. Then you knocked out Alessio Sakara in your next fight at UFC 75 and won the "knockout of the night" bonus. How was fighting in the UFC different from the fights that you had previously, and how were you feeling after that 2-0 start in the promotion?
HA: There was no difference. It was just the level of experience the fighters had. The more I learned, the more I had to get used to muscle memory. More drilling. It boiled down to drilling more and having more of a muscle memory.
JB: In your next three fights in the UFC, you fought very tough competition and came up short. Then after one fight outside of the promotion, in 2009 you returned for a very high profile catchweight fight against the renowned Kimbo Slice. How do you view that fight in retrospect?
HA: Still to this day I thought I won that fight. But I lost to his popularity. It wasn't a popular way to fight this guy through the fans and media's eyes. But at the same time I still feel that I won the fight.
JB: You are 5-4, with 1 no contest, since the Kimbo Slice fight. Your most recent fight, this past March at Victory FC 39, was a first round victory. How have these past few years in your career been for you?
HA: Again it is always a learning process. I have always had the physical ability, but now the mental ability has come along. I am learning more and my muscle memory is automatic. The mental process is there now.
JB: Your next scheduled fight is this coming Saturday, July 27th, in the headliner for Victory FC 40, in Omaha, Nebraska. You will be facing Chuck Grigsby for Victory's light heavyweight championship. What do you think of your opponent and the matchup, and how is Victory FC as a promotion in general?
HA: I respect my opponent. He is 6'6, has great boxing ability and submissions, and he is the current champ. There is more than enough incentives to want to win the VFC title representing Nebraska and the midwest as a whole. VFC puts on great shows. I started with them in the early 2000's. They have come a long way to becoming one of the premier organizations in the region. I have lots of respect for VFC.
JB: Who are some of the other MMA fighters that you respect or admire, and who are some of the fighters that you would most like to be matched up with at some point?
HA: I respect all mixed martial artists. It takes a lot to get into the ring, physically and mentally. Ryan Jensen, The Ellenberger Brothers, Jason Brilz, Ryan Roberts, and Chad Reiner are just a few of the pro fighters at Premier Combat Center who are my training partners and that I respect the most. I want to fight any fighter in the way of my competing to get back into the UFC.
JB: What else do you enjoy outside of training and fighting, and who are the individuals who have supported you most in life?
HA: I have my family, friends, and fans. I enjoy the radio and music. I also enjoy working with the community. My mother and grandmother have always been there for me. Hi Mom!
JB: Last question, Houston, and thanks for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
HA: Discipline. Honor. Respect. Loyalty. It's an honor to be able to still compete at this level and this why I appreciate MMA.
Thank you so much for reading and please follow @houstonassassin and @Jackjohnbrown on Twitter.
Visit JackJohnBrownMMA on Facebook for links to all of Jack’s past interviews. Previous interviews include: Dan Hardy, Rose Namajunas, Joe Lauzon, War Machine, Tom Lawlor, Bas Rutten, Chris Leben, Phil Baroni, Julie Kedzie, Michael Bisping, Duane Ludwig, Sara McMann, Matt Lindland, Duke Roufus, Pat Miletich, Jens Pulver, Dan Severn, Nate Quarry, Ken Shamrock, Matt Serra, Jeremy Horn, and dozens more.
Thank you to @KirikJenness for @theUG.