John Alessio on UFC: “I’m Willing to Prove to Them, Show to Them, How Much I’ve Improved”
Lightweight Fights Fellow WEC Vet Ryan Healy at Friday’s SFS
By Kelsey Mowatt
Aspiring fighters that are looking to get a sense of the many turns and paths that the life of a professional mixed-martial-artist can take, could learn a lot by surveying the career of John Alessio. Not only has the 32 year-old battled his way into several of the sport’s leading promotions over the last decade plus, but Alessio has also demonstrated that a closed door may not be permanently shut.
Having gone 9-1 in his last ten fights, and 11-3 since he was released by the WEC in 2008, the veteran lightweight might be a win or two away from competing under the Zuffa banner once again.
“That’s where I want to be; one hundred percent,” said Alessio, who first competed for the UFC in 2000, then again in 2006, before moving on to the WEC. “I’ve always had to work a little harder to get in the UFC and that’s fine. I’m willing to prove to them, show to them, how much I’ve improved. I’ve dropped a weight class and I really feel like I’ve found my home.”
Since losing by stoppage to Siyar Bahadurzada last March, marking Alessio’s only defeat since 2009, the former welterweight has scored wins over Shawn Fitzsimmons and Luiz Firmino while competing for Superior Cage Combat.
“I think I’ve definitely improved the most on my boxing skills,” Alessio told FCF. “My footwork and understanding angles; when there’s going to be an opening, head movement, things like that. I’ve also definitely improved a lot on my jiu-jitsu and I credit that to Robert Drysdale. Not only because of his grappling skills but his instructing ability. He can break it down like no other.”
“I kind of thought I understood grappling, but after training with him I realized just how much I didn’t know,” Alessio added about the former ADCC champion. “I’ve really fallen in love again with boxing and jiu-jitsu, just MMA in general as a student. For a while there I was just kind of a fighter, just getting ready for fights, and now I feel like I’m a true student of mixed-martial-art.”
The next step in Alessio’s quest to return to the Octagon will take place Friday night, when he faces fellow WEC vet Ryan Healy, in the headliner of the latest Score Fighting Series event.
“I was glad to take the fight,” said Alessio (33-14), who will face Healy, the brother of Strikeforce contender Pat, in Hamilton, Ontario. “If you look at my record you can see that I don’t really shy away from any opponent that’s presented to me. I’ll fight the who’s who. It was a great opportunity; a really good fight to put in my win column.”
“Score Fighting Series is also one of the fastest growing MMA organizations in Canada,” Alessio added about the promotion, which is owned by The Score, a Canadian sports network. “They have a great TV deal too so it’s a good fight publicity wise as well.”
Healy (19-9) is also coming off back-to-back wins, as the 28 year-old vet earned victories over James Birdsley and most recently Andrew Chappelle, after losing to Vene Galiev last March.
“One of his best attributes is his gritty, resilience and toughness,” Alessio noted. “Both the Healy brothers are really known for that. They don’t really take steps backwards, they just come forward, and they can take a lot of abuse. The main thing for me is to fight a really calm, smart fight…I really believe I’ve improved a lot and that I’m better than him in a lot of areas. I’m going to try to expose that.”