UFC middleweight star Alan Belcher
is still on the road to recovery from an eye injury that nearly ended his career, but with his condition rapidly improving, Belcher can see clearly into the future and his comeback fight, sometime in 2011.
The 26-year-old isn't asking for anything easy. In fact, he wants to fight one of the sport's all-time great warriors.
"I want to fight Wanderlei Silva
," told MMA Fighting. "And I think he needs to fight someone like me, a top young guy, to really stay in the mix," he said. "He needs to do that to stay a legit fighter and not just a legend selling pay-per-views because he has a name. He has to fight me to stay up there."
Belcher said it's a fight he's wanted for a long time, since before the two were even in the UFC together. Now, though, he thinks it's perfect timing, with both men coming off injuries and with something to prove.
The winner of four of his last five fights, Belcher (16-6) also looks at the match as one of those times in a young fighter's career when he must step up to face a legend and defeat him to continue his own rise.
"I think a passing of the torch is the perfect way to put it," he said.
"I feel I'm better than him," he continued. "Wanderlei definitely poses a threat because he hits hard, is aggressive and has good conitioning, but at this point, I am more technical, well-rounded and I can beat him in any part of the game. I'm not saying it will be an easy fight, but I believe I can beat him and I'm ready to let the fans see what they want to see and prove that I'm that caliber. I want to make myself a legend off of this fight."
He's even thought about the marketing for the fight, saying the two would make great opposing coaches on the upcoming 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter, and explaining that the series could tell their comeback stories leading up to the bout. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Silva has been lobbying for a coaching slot on TUF for weeks. The show just had a casting call for fighters, but no one knows whether UFC president Dana White has made up his mind regarding coaches. The season is likely to begin taping in early January, which ironically is exactly when Belcher is expected to be cleared for full-contact sparring.
"I was thinking about it and it'd be perfect for TV," Belcher said. "I'd bring in my coaches, train every day with my fighters and sparring partners. The fans could watch me trim down, get faster, get healthier and get ready to fight a legend."
In the past, Silva hasn't taken kindly to being called out by prospective opponents. When asked how he thought Silva would respond to his challenge, Belcher was unconcerned.
"I think he's going to be mad and pissed off about it," he said. "Wanderlei is pretty emotional. I'm laid back and easy-going but I won't take anything from even Wanderlei."
To Belcher, it all comes down to two things. First, it's a fight he's always. And second, to him it's a fight that makes sense with timing that fits. Two fighters both coming off injuries, one an old-guard lion, the other a new-school upstart. One a former champion, the other trying to get there.
It's a callout not about disrespect, but exactly the opposite, the young kid ready to make his bones against someone he's long admired.
"He's somebody I've wanted to fight for a long time," he said. "I've always wanted to sneak my way in there against him. I didn't have the name before. Wanderlei is a legend. I think now I have a big enough name. This is the right thing to do at this point. When I come back, I'm going be one of the top contenders. It's the right fight for the fans, the right fight for my career, the right fight for the rankings and the show. I want to beat a legend and get to the top. "