"If anybody has seen me fight or anybody has seen Tom fight then those people know that this is a genius fight by (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva." - Sam Alvey
If you’re unfamiliar with middleweight “Smile'N” Sam Alvey, then you’re probably wondering, what does he have to smile so much about?
As a man, Alvey lives in sunny California, is married to supermodel McKey Sullivan, and he became a proud father to a baby girl around this time last year. As a fighter, he has knockout power in both hands, is riding a four-fight win streak, and still owns a full set of chompers after seven years of competing in mixed martial arts.
While the above are all great reasons to beam, what specifically has Alvey grinning like a goon nowadays is his shot at UFC redemption in his forthcoming Octagon debut on August 16.
The 28-year-old was a part of the infamous season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter. Actually, Alvey was the first pick for Team Carwin after he scored a one-punch knockout over Leo Kuntz in just 47 seconds to make it into the TUF house. At the time, Alvey owned a 19-4, 1 NC pro record, with him scrapping at both middleweight and light heavyweight, but the TUF opportunity would be at welterweight.
“I had such a good record for so long and I had been fighting for so long and I was trying to get any recognition I could from the UFC,” Alvey remembers. “I tried out for the show at 205 then they cut it to 185 and I tried out at 185 then they cut it to 170 and I tried out for 170 then they cut it to 155. I thought I just wasn’t going to get on the show and 170 was too hard anyway. I would stick with 185 or 205 and I would get into the UFC somehow someday. Then I got a call from the UFC and they said, ‘Hey, can you make 170?’ And I said, ‘Sure!’ And they were like, ‘You’ve got a month.’ I was like, ‘I’ll be there!’ It was 40 pounds in 29 days. And I did it. It was the most miserable month of my life, but I did it. I made weight and I knocked out Leo Kuntz.”
With a possible future in the UFC as his carrot, Smilin shed a fifth of his body weight in less than a month and delivered a strike hard enough to punch his ticket into the TUF tournament. The real problem for Alvey started once inside the house as he needed to make weight again when he was set to fight Team Nelson’s Joey Rivera less than a week later. “I made weight, I put on about 35 pounds overnight, I fought Kuntz, and - six days later - I fought my second fight,” Alvey said, recalling how he simply pushed his body beyond its limits to take part in this particular type of competition. “And the second weight cut just killed me.
“I woke up the morning of that second fight and I was tired still,” Alvey continues. “I just didn’t feel right. I was shoveling food in, water, liquids, anything trying to get some sort of energy. Even backstage when I was gloving up, I was trying anything to psyche myself to get out of this funk that I had been in. I just never got out of it. When I was in there, I was flat-footed. I think I threw a jab. Other than that, I think I just stood back and let him beat me up. It was a terrible fight, at least on my end. He did fantastic (laughs)!”
Those trying days on TUF are two years old and, as mentioned, Smilin is enjoying a four-fight win streak including three knockouts, which improved Alvey’s career total to 14 wins via KO. “I was on a roll and I was blessed that the UFC saw the roll and they invited me to come back and show them how good I’ve gotten,” Alvey said, and he is absolutely excited about his chance to give the fight fans of Bangor, Maine another one of his highlight reel finishes.
At UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Saint Preux, Alvey is set for a collision with Tom “Kong” Watson. The British bruiser from Southampton, England is just the type to welcome a stand-up war with Alvey, as Watson owns exactly half of his career wins by knockout, including his double Fight Night bonus-earning effort against Stanislav Nedkov in February 2013. Currently, Watson is on a two-bout losing skid since his win over Nedkov. With his back against the wall, Kong will be more than ready to go to war, which is exactly what Alvey is hoping for.
“If anybody has seen me fight or anybody has seen Tom fight then those people know that this is a genius fight by (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva,” Alvey declares. “I keep telling everyone, I’m not fighting for the win - I’m fighting for the bonus. This is going to be Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night. This is going to be the fight to tune in for. He hits hard, he’s a kickboxer, he comes at you. I hit harder and I come at you. It’s going to be a good fight. This will be something ‘of the Night’. I’m fighting to win this thing and leave an impression on people. If they’ve seen me fight before then they know that I’ve got it in me.”
In preparation for his UFC debut, Alvey is busy working out with the renowned Team Quest. Four years ago, the Wisconsin native was looking to make a change and up his MMA training by joining a “UFC level” gym, which led Alvey to relocate to Temecula to become a part of all-time great Dan Henderson’s gym. For his last 13 fights, Alvey has been actively honing his skills under the talent-rich coaching staff like Bryan Harper, BJJ black belt Ricardo Feliciano, and Muay Thai striking coach Daniel Woirin. If things go the way he hopes then Alvey should have an extra toothy grin knowing that he will be the first to stop Watson due to strikes in his 23-fight career.
“You hit anyone hard enough, you’re going to knock them out,” affirms Alvey. “I know Tom Watson is tough and I know I’m going to have to hit him harder than I have ever hit anyone, but that’s what I’m training for and it’s going to happen. I want to put on a show, so that fans want to see me on the next UFC card. I’m going to be like (Donald) “Cowboy” Cerrone! I’m going to be on every card the UFC has. If they want me at 205, I’ll be at 205. If they want me to fight at heavyweight, I’ll fight at heavyweight. Whatever they offer, I’m saying yes. And I’m going to make sure on August 16th that they want to offer it to me.”
Next Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. Saint Preux, a middleweight melee is in the makings as Alvey aims to KO Kong. “I want to impress people and I’m going to be that guy people tune-in to watch,” Alvey states, and he is eager to give an Octagon performance that puts a smile on the face of fight fans everywhere. “I have a lot of fans now, but, after August 16th, I’m going to have a lot more.”