EXCLUSIVE | John Alessio, "I'm going to make Mark Bocek work for everything"
By Sean McClure:
John Alessio has been on a roller coaster ride since his mixed martial arts career started back in 1998. He has competed in the UFC, WEC, PRIDE, KOTC, MFC and DREAM organizations. Allesio has pieced together a very impressive overall record of 34 wins and 14 losses. While his attempts in the UFC were not successful, John feels things are different this time.
“It’s been a long hard ride. It’s been 6 years since I was last in the UFC. I’ve had 21 fights since then. I’ve been very very active. For the last year or two I have been very vocal about how bad I wanted back in the UFC. I changed my whole life around. I totally dedicated my life to MMA and I changed my personal lifestyle, too. I got grounded and things have been really good since then. Being back in the UFC is a great feeling, and I plan on making the most of it”.
John was happy to get the call from the UFC, but even happier when he found out his placement on its fight card.
“To make it on to the main card of one of the biggest events of the year is amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better situation for my return”.
Having been out of the UFC for quite some time, one would think the media attention might be a hard adjustment for a returning fighter. The last time John fought for the UFC it was still in its initial explosion phase. Given the fact that the UFC 145 card features one of the most anticipated fights in UFC history the press has swarmed fighters and employees prior to the event. This is a big change from what John was greeted with before.
“The media’s been really overwhelming in a good way”, Alessio said. “It’s nice to, after all these years of hard work, to get recognized and get some credit. I think I’m a pioneer in this sport. I’ve been fighting since 1998. I do think I’m a true pioneer for Canadian mixed martial arts. It’s nice to get some attention now. It’s great, but I’m not letting it get in the way of my focus at all. That’s not an option. I’m so focused on the job at hand, and I can’t wait to get in the cage against Mark on Saturday night”.
John’s opponent at UFC 145 is Mark Bocek (6-4 UFC). Bocek is well known for his submission skills and jiu jitsu background. Mark has submitted guys like Dustin Hazelett and Alvin Robinson, and he has gone the distance with fighters like Jim Miller and Benson Henderson. Over the years John Alessio has evolved and adapted to the modern styles of MMA, and feels like Bocek is in for a surprise if the fight hits the ground.
“Mark’s been a black belt for a long time, grappled at a high level, and he’s very good at what he does. I’ve been doing jiu jitsu for a long time myself. The last two or three years I’ve hooked up with Robert Drysdale, one of the most renowned grapplers in the world. He’s helped me get so much better, and I’m very well prepared for this. If it goes to the ground I’m not worried about it. I feel like I have the submission skills to match his. He’s good at what he does, which is be on top and grind positions. I’m more of an attacker when it comes to to the ground game in general. I’d rather go for stuff than just sit there and hold position”, said John.
Alessio has been on what some would call a hot streak – winning 10 out of his last 11 fights, and John has finished 8 out of those 10 wins via technical knockout or submission. His last two fights have been decision victories, but he doesn’t see this fight going the distance.
“I have good takedown defense and I’m the better striker I think”, said Alessio. “I plan on using that to expose his stand up and make it as much of a standup war as possible. If it goes to the ground I plan on punishing him from my back if it goes there with elbows, and things like that. I’m going to make Mark Bocek work for everything if it does go to the ground. Plan A is expose him on his feet, Plan B work from the ground, and then get back to Plan A”, John stated.
Another relatively new experience for John is fighting at lightweight. He used to call the welterweight division home, but recently he has found himself in the smaller 155 pound weight class, and it may be where he finishes his career.
“When I first started I really felt like I was headed to middlewight (185 pounds). I never thought I would be at 155 honestly. Over the years I just ended up getting smaller with better eating habits and training in between fights correctly. I didn’t get as big in between fights because of that. Making the weight now, it sucks, but I’ve had harder cuts to 170 in the past than 155 this time. Bringing in Mike Dolce really helped with some of the science of cutting weight. When to eat the right foods, and stuff you really don’t think about all the time”, Alessio said.
Whatever the outcome of his bout at UFC 145 may be, John will still be a fighter that helped shape the landscape of mixed martial arts. His representation of his home country Canada has been at the forefront of his career since his first fight. John’s Canadian heritage is important to him, and he has never forgotten where he came from, and the support his country has given him.
“I’ve been repping my country hard”, John said. “My last fight before this was a main event for a fighting series in Canada which was televised all over the country. I was ranked super high, like top 2 welterweight in Canada, and now dropping to lightweight I plan on taking that spot, and becoming the number one lightweight in my country. I want to continue to fight for Canada, put on good shows, and make the Canadian crowds proud. There are a lot more Canadian fighters now then there used to be. MMA is really growing big in Canada and I feel like I was a small help making it grow there”.
John Alessio vs. Mark Bocek is scheduled for the main card of Saturday’s UFC 145 in Atlanta, GA.