Xtreme Couture welterweight John Alessio is taking on American Top Team's Luigi Fioravanti Friday at MFC 22 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for a possible shot at the promotion's title.
In this interview with FanHouse, Alessio talks about preparing for Fioravanti, his hatred towards UFC fighter Brock Larson and how he reevaluated his training after his loss in April to Andre Galvao.
Ray Hui: First booked to fight Nick Thompson, what was your first impression when the replacement offered to you was Luigi Fioravanti?
John Alessio: They're both very competitive tough fights so I knew no matter what I had to train hard and I had my hands full. It's a little different stylistically as far as opponents but the change happened really early in training camp, so it was really no big deal.
How would you break down Luigi stylistically?
Luigi comes down from a bigger weight class before. He's fighting at 170 for awhile now but he's a bigger guy, so I expect him to be a strong opponent. He comes from a good camp, the American Top Team, so he's got great training partners. He's a slugger, he really likes to throw that right hand so I'm assuming he hits hard. He's got a bunch of wins by knockout so I feel like he's going to come at me and try to go for the KO.
Before your last fight, you came off a pair of losses and you've never dropped three in a row, how much was it a relief to pick up that win in May?
I mean it was a huge relief. I was a little stressed out over the situation. I took the fight in Japan on real short notice so I really wasn't fight prepped for that fight. Andre Galvao, he knew he would be fighting in the tournament for eight weeks. I came in on nine days [notice], so I wasn't fully prepared. It's really one of those things where I'd really like a do over. I think with my experience it would never happen again, but the chances of me and Andre fighting again are pretty slim I'm sure. I just got to walk away with that one, get back on track, and ignore that.
I understand that you went through a heavy period of reevaluation after those two losses. What is different from the John Alessio of today compared to the one after the DREAM fight?
I regrouped, got refocused. I really had to figure out the reason why I dropped two in a row. I'm in one of the best training camps in the world, but I had to take a step back and say "Okay, what's going on here?" I mean, yeah, I was getting in shape for fights, I was training hard and I got great training partners, but I really wasn't learning anything as far as advancing my ground game and learning new tricks, things like that.
So I brought in new guys to help train me. I brought in Robert Drysdale for my jiu-jitsu. He's one of the best jiu-jitsu guys out there. I brought him in and I learned so much from him and it really gave me a whole new love for jiu-jitsu and respect for it. Everyday I've been working with Drysdale and I come out of there learning two or three new things. So that's been the last six months, just learning and learning and learning.
I also brought in Gil Martinez for my boxing and everyday I'm learning something with him, and really understanding angles, and situations, and footwork, head movements, when to slip, when to throw this punch, when I'm on this side or angle. So I feel like a brand new fighter since I've been learning so much. I was getting good sparring in but I really wasn't getting any better. Yeah I was getting tougher but as far as skillwise, I was really stale. I've found a whole new love for the sport, really. Not just the same old routine of just getting in shape and just sparring. There's a whole new learning curve going on and it's great.
Now that you've been training in Las Vegas for a while, does it create extra excitement when you're fighting in Canada for the MFC?
Yeah, I love coming back to my home country and fighting. I get lots of family and friends and just a lot of support up here. And with the show being on TV I'm not sacrificing anything like if I'm fighting on a small show. The MFC is a great show. They got HDNet. They got a great casino. And in my opinion it's one of the up-and-coming shows running neck and neck with the WEC. They are going to be up there with UFC and Strikeforce. It's Canada's biggest show so it's the biggest stage I could be on in my home country, which is great.
It seems that the winner here will face Pat Healy for the MFC belt. Is that a fight you're looking forward to? Or are you looking at DREAM or Strikeforce in the near future?
I'm just looking at it one fight at a time right now. Before my career, I've looked ahead. That's what I mean by like not completely focused, looked ahead like, "win this fight I can get back into the UFC." I just got to worry about Luigi right now. Don't get me wrong those things are definitely in your mind, but a title shot is something I'm definitely look for. Fighting for Strikeforce and UFC would definitely be great but I'm going to leave those negotiations and politics to my manager. My job right now is go there Friday night, October 2 and get the win over Luigi and let my management handle it from there.
You won three in a row in the WEC before losing via DQ to Brock Larson. I know there's no welterweight division in the WEC now but why weren't you transferred over after the fight? You had a good run there.
(Sighs.) Yes, that's the million dollar question in my mind. Really not sure. I really thought that the WEC or UFC would want to do a rematch with me and Brock Larson. There was so much bad blood before the fight and it definitely boiled over into the situation that happened in the fight.
I was upset. I thought he took the easy way out. I thought he took the easy win. He didn't really try to get down and fight. I was really upset about it. And in my opinion doing a rematch would be the ultimate grudge match. I do not like this man at all. I would love to punch Brock Larson in the face, right now. I still don't like him. I would love for that fight to happen. If his mom was beside him, I might slap her too. I do not like this man. He said a bunch of comments before the fight, calling me pretty boy and that this sport is not for pretty boys and stuff ... Shut up man. You can't even talk. You're just a moron. I just don't like the guy.
Finally, Mayhem has a red streak and he calls it the "Strip of Doom"? Do you have a nickname for your bleached streak?
(Laughs.) I just did that for a few fights. The streak in the hair. I'm not doing it this fight. I like how Mayhem calls it the Strip of Doom. That's pretty cool, I didn't know that. I'm definitely a Mayhem fan. I think he's got great ring entrances and he's a great fighter. I'm actually looking forward to him fighting Shields, but yeah, I never named the hair. It was just something to just stand out while I was on some other shows. Just to keep recognized and stuff. I mainly did it on those "Night of Combat" events and my first MFC fight. Afterwards I was like, it's gotta be all business now. Yeah I'm going to bleach my hair but I'm not going to go all crazy with it, all Thomas Denny with it.