“i Invite Him To Stand With Me,”alessio Goads Sanchez With Belated Ufc 60 Shot
"I Invite Him to Stand with Me,"
Alessio Goads Sanchez with Belated UFC 60 Shot
By Kelsey Mowatt
Johnny Alessio and Diego Sanchez will do battle this Saturday night at Los Angeles’ famous Staples Center for UFC 60 "Hughes vs. Gracie" event, in what promises to be one of the night’s more compelling match-ups. Barring any last minute complication’s similar to the viral infection that prevented Sanchez from fighting the Canadian at UFC 59, these two welterweights will finally test what has now been months of preparation for their upcoming bout. One should only review the records of the two to find evidence to the fact, that indeed, despite the resounding fanfare that is surrounding the event’s Matt Hughes and Royce Gracie fight, this fight (currently scheduled to be televised on pay-per-view) has the potential to be one of UFC 60’s best.
"The Ultimate Fighter" season one welterweight champion Sanchez has a well-documented undefeated record of 14-0, including a recent memorable win over Nick Diaz at the reality show’s season two finale. Sanchez served notice to his doubters, most notably, Diaz himself, that the New Mexico fighter was for real. 26-year-old Alessio comes into the fight with a record of 16-7, and has only lost two fights to Jonathan Goulet and Jason Black since the year 2000. Despite wins over accomplished fighters like Ronald Jhun, Chris Brennan, and Thomas Denny, he will be a huge underdog on the betting lines come Saturday night.
"Absolutely," says Alessio, acknowledging that many are not picking him to defeat Sanchez. "That’s fine with me. I know what I’m capable of and people can underestimate all they want. Everyone will be saying, ‘Damn, where did that guy come from?’ after Saturday night. They all know Diego, but they don’t know me. He was on a show that was huge; the sport got so much more popular because of that show and afterwards, they put a lot of money into him because he had won. I actually think this is the best possible fight for me. When I win this fight, then everyone will remember."
Part of Alessio’s confidence comes as a result from the high altitude training the fighter has been undergoing in Utah with Jeremy Horn, Joe Riggs, Jay Hieron, and conditioning expert Billy Rush. Alessio, who normally trains out of Millennia Jiu-Jitsu with such noted fighters as Javier Vasquez and King of the Cage World Lightweight Champion Mac Danzig, departed for Utah from California to complete his pre-fight training.
"I live in California and train at Millennia, but for the last two to three weeks of training, I come out here," Alessio says. "The training is unbelievable, Billy Rush is a conditioning wizard. We train three times a day with Billy monitoring everything. Having Jeremy Horn, who’s fought the who’s who of the sport, helping you out of course is great, and then with the other guys here as well, it’s a pretty good bunch. When you come back down to sea level, it will be that much easier to breathe and to fight. Training is always the hard part; the fight is always the fun part."
Alessio is keenly aware of Sanchez’s abilities, having monitored the fighter’s career closely, as both men competed often within the welterweight division of King of the Cage. As a result, Alessio believes he has a full understanding of what he needs to do Saturday night if he hopes to hand Sanchez his first career defeat.
"I knew Diego from a lot of the KOTC shows," Alessio tells FCF. "I knew when he signed up for the reality show and saw the line-up for the show, he had a good shot to be a finalist. He’s beaten some tough guys, but to call himself the uncrowned champion is really going too far. I think he’s a one-dimensional fighter. He throws a couple of punches and then goes for the takedown. I mean he brings it on the ground, and I know he wants to take me down and ground-and-pound me or go for a submission, but I’m going to fight my fight on the ground. I invite him to stand with me – it would make my night easy — but I’ve been doing the grappling as long as he has. If I’m taken down I’ll be going for submissions too — I’m not at all worried about my abilities on the ground."
Thus according to Alessio’s prediction for the fight, MMA observers and fans alike will be well aware of the Canadian welterweight come Sunday morning.
"I’m definitely going for the KO, I really think I have the advantage standing," Alessio says. "I don’t think it will happen right away, it will probably happen after some fighting on the ground, stopping a few of his takedowns, but I think in the second round I’ll get the TKO or KO."
From the event’s promoter:
Thomson, Jackson Look To Deliver Wins At Strikeforce ‘Revenge’
Lightweight (155 lb. limit) star Josh "The Punk" Thomson will attempt to steer his career back on track when meets Harris "The Hitman" Sarmiento during "Revenge," the 10-bout Strikeforce mixed martial arts mega-card that will take place at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Friday, June 9th. Middleweight (185 lb. limit) Eugene "The Wolf" Jackson, meanwhile, will look to build on his successful comeback when he squares off with Mike Seal during the star-studded affair.
The 27-year-old Thomson is coming off a heart-wrenching loss to Chicago, Illinois’s Clay Guida. With the vacant Strikeforce lightweight championship on the line during March 10th’s "Shamrock vs. Gracie" card, Thomson put forth a gutsy effort as he battled, predominantly from the guard position, to ward off the ground and pound tactics and repeated submission attempts by a relentless Guida. More than once, Thomson attempted to comprise his opponent’s arm, but it was to no avail as Guida escaped each time and was declared the winner by unanimous decision after five rounds of non-stop action.
A former wrestling standout at NCAA Division I Stanford University, Thomson, a resident of San Jose, has established himself as a force in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Thomson’s "Revenge" opponent, Sarmiento, is also endeavoring to rebound from a defeat that he suffered at the hands of undefeated sensation Gilbert Melendez during the "Shamrock vs. Gracie" event. The 23 year old Sarmiento is a native of Waipahu, Hawaii and a rugged brawler with over 30 mixed martial arts bouts under his belt.
In his first start in nearly three years, Jackson systematically wore down Mexico’s Jorge "The Naked Man" Ortiz while the two repeatedly battled for position on the ground. After three rounds of action came to a close, Jackson was awarded the win by way of unanimous judges’ decision.
The 39-year-old Jackson, who hails from East Palo Alto, California, entered the world of mixed martial arts eight years ago as a rugged street brawler with no formal martial arts training. Jackson has since evolved, adopting world-class trainers Javier Mendez and "Crazy Bob" Cook of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) as his mentors.
The Strikeforce "Revenge" bill will be headlined by a rematch between former UFC light heavyweight champion, Vitor Belfort, and Pride Fighting Championship superstar, Alistair Overeem. During their first encounter at Pride’s "Total Elimination 2005" event a year ago, Belfort and Overeem battled for nine and a half minutes (Note: Pride Fighting Championship schedules the first round of its bouts for 10 minutes) before Overeem secured a guillotine choke on Belfort and forced the Brazilian fighter to tap out.
Another rematch will see World San Shou kickboxing champion Cung Le face "Mr. Unbreakable" Brian Warren. Le, whose start marks his second career appearance under mixed martial arts rules, defeated Warren by way of unanimous decision in a bout contested under San Shou rules in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 30, 2004.
The card will also be highlighted by a matchup between undefeated 22-year-old Tyson Griffin and K-1 and UFC veteran, Duane "Bang" Ludwig, as well as a meeting between light heavyweights Bobby Southworth and James Irvin. Southworth introduced himself to the masses during Spike TV’s premiere season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series two years ago.
Strikeforce 155 lb. champion, Clay Guida, will set out to defend his crown for the first time and former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar, Daniel Puder, will make his third career mixed martial arts appearance during the event.
Tickets for Strikeforce "Revenge" are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com).
Strikeforce made history twice over on March 10th with its "Shamrock vs. Gracie" event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at the HP Pavilion, played host to 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.
The Strikeforce mixed martial arts event is being produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVS&E, www.svse.net), a leading producer of major sporting and entertainment events and the exclusive producer of such events for San Jose, California’s largest entertainment venue, HP Pavilion. SVS&E’s many properties include "Fight Night at the Tank" professional boxing; the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men’s professional tennis "SAP Open" event.