Alan Belcher has always taken challenges head on. The same attitude that he brought to his 26-fight MMA career is now serving him well in his current competitive venture, the field of business consultation.
Dubbed “The Talent” during his days in the cage, Belcher made a name for himself in the UFC with his versatility, combining strong Muay Thai skills with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Helio “Soneca” Moreira. What really made him stand out is how he used these skills to match opponents strength for strength, as opposed to exploiting their weaknesses.
Against Muay Thai practitioner Jorge Santiago, Belcher chose to stand and chop away at his foe with leg kicks before drilling him with a shin to the chin in the third round. Rather than employ those standup skills against submission specialists Jason MacDonald and Rousimar Palhares, Belcher sought to test them on the mat, showing off his own offensive grappling before putting both men away with ground-and-pound.
The win over Palhares was particularly memorable as Belcher was one of only a few fighters to defend against one of Palhares’ leg locks and live to tell the tale.
Now 33, Belcher is looking to pass on his own mastery in the form of “Hustlejitsu,” just one of the catchphrases that he employs in his life as a consultant specializing in helping martial artists bolster their careers outside of competition.
“‘Hustlejitsu’ is the skills and the strategies behind hustling, and it’s mainly for people who want to improve their position in life,” Belcher said in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “Whether they’re an athlete or an entrepreneur or someone that just wants to be successful. The word ‘hustle’ is all about working hard and getting ahead. A lot of times people just put their nose to the grindstone hardcore and they’re spinning their wheels.
“So jiu-jitsu, because I’m a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and I come from martial arts, I find that every time you can get leverage and use momentum then you can use your energy more efficiently. And that’s what jiu-jitsu is all about.”
Belcher has leveraged his expertise into a consulting company called Combat Business that has served over 1,000 customers and clients in the two years since its formation. He describes his client base as being “80 to 90 percent” people in the martial arts industry, ranging from athletes who are either selling online training and products to those starting up a traditional gym to those looking to make an existing gym into a multi-location franchise.
“I do a lot of different consulting, so I have a consulting company and we have programs that specifically are for MMA and fitness gym owners, and then I take on clients at a higher level if they want to start an online business or they want to take their online business past a million dollars into the multi-million range,” said Belcher.
The last time Belcher fought, it was in 2013 at UFC 159 against future middleweight champion Michael Bisping. The bout ended in a unanimous technical decision win for “The Count” after an inadvertent eye poke left Belcher unable to compete with 30 seconds remaining in round three. The poke forced Belcher to get eight stitches, but that ugly injury wasn’t the main reason that he decided to officially walk away from active competition two years later.
Belcher instead chose to put all of his efforts into training and consulting, utilizing the same ideology of identifying his target’s strengths and weaknesses and working from there.
The first thing he does when assessing a new client is prompt them to ask several questions about themselves:
“Are they getting a lot done? Do they have a lot of stress in their life? How are their relationships with their family, their wife or husband? Are they staying in shape, being healthy, mentally and physically, throughout the day are they eating right?”
From there, he does an audit of their business, figuring out whether the client and their customers are getting “maximum value,” and then he moves on to figuring out how to use marketing and advertising to turn new leads into new sales.
This work has led to Belcher traveling the globe more than he did during his fighting days, with his company hosting retreats in Hawaii, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, among other major stops. He lists several UFC fighters among his success stories, including Jeremy Horn, Cole Miller, and Matt Arroyo.
A gym owner for over ten years, Horn credits Belcher with “adding direction” during a time when he was overhauling his business.
“Alan definitely helped me, and he reached out to me when the gym was struggling and said, ‘Hey, I really want to help you do this. There’s no reason somebody in your position should be struggling with the business. I really want to help you,’” Horn told MMA Fighting.
Horn, an athlete who has competed in 120 matches dating back to 1996, is exactly the type of fighter that Belcher wants to reach, someone who he felt wasn’t getting the most out of his reputation. No longer cleaning the gym himself or struggling to break even, Horn is finally getting to enjoy the fruits of his labors.
“We completely turned his business around and now he’s getting what he deserves from MMA,” said Belcher. “When people find Jeremy Horn, they can join in on a program, he’s not necessarily having to do all the work. He’s actually making money from that legacy that he built as opposed to going back to working full time to try and make a living.”
Belcher is still learning. It’s a whole different kind of public performance now when he’s holding court at one of his retreats. Asked who he studied to develop his own onstage style, he names popular motivational speakers like Zig Ziggler, Grant Cardone, and Gary “Garyvee” Vaynerchuk as major influences. He actually worked with the latter recently, recording a few chapters for one of Vaynerchuk’s audio books.
That’s just one area where Belcher is continuing to improve, because much like in his fighting career, he’s determined to stay as well-versed as possible.
“I took the same approach as I did with fighting,” said Belcher. “I had coaches for different areas, where their strengths were, and I had training partners who were essentially equivalent to coaches in a sense when you talk about business because you’re learning from your training partners.
“For instance, I made a relationship with two-time NCAA champion and MMA world champion, Olympic wrestler Ben Askren, because I really wanted to work on my wrestling. Just in training with him, I learned from him and that’s just one of the many, many training partners or coaches I brought in. I probably had 10 coaches and over 100 high-level training partners that were better than me in some aspect, so I took that same approach to business and I started gaining knowledge from mentors.”
In his 15 fights with the UFC, Belcher never quite broke into the elite at 185 pounds. He compiled a highlight reel of finishes and picked up convincing wins over the likes of Palhares, Ed Herman, Kalib Starnes, and one-time title challenger Patrick Cote, but a shot at championship gold always eluded him.
He’s seeing similar success with Combat Business now, only this time, he’s not settling for anything less than the top of the mountain.
“That’s kind of what I want to secure, that number-one spot in martial arts consulting and I think we’re there now, there’s no one else really doing it like we do with MMA and BJJ that are working with clients every day full-time,” said Belcher. “I know there’s some people that have done it on the side a little bit, but I want to be number one.
“When people think, ‘I want an MMA gym, who do I go to?’ or ‘I just got my BJJ black belt, I want to start teaching for a living, who do I go to?’ I want them to think Combat Business.”