Ask them how long their ideal training camp would be and most fighters will tell you that they like between eight to 10 weeks to prepare for a fight. Some will stretch it out to 12 weeks and others are satisfied with six hard and fast weeks before hitting the cage.
Alex White had just over two weeks’ notice before making his UFC debut back in April, getting the late call to replace Mike Brown opposite Estevan Payan on the preliminary portion of UFC on FOX: Werdum vs. Browne in Orlando, Florida.
With those final few days between arriving in the host city and stepping into the Octagon dedicated to getting settled and making weight, the 25-year-old really had a little more than a week to prep himself for the biggest fight of his career, but you’d never know it from the performance he turned in.
Just over a minute into the opening round, White blistered Payan with a straight left hand, leaving the Arizona-based veteran slumped against the cage. A torrent of right hands followed, forcing referee Jorge Ortiz to step in and wave off the bout less than 90 seconds after it started.
It was a near perfect debut for the Farmington, Missouri native, who pushed his record to 10-0 with the victory and pocketed a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts.
“I’ve been in the gym every day,” White said of his time since his victory in Orlando. “I’ve been staying in shape. You never know when the UFC is going to call, so my main goal right now is staying in shape and keeping myself ready for any time they call.”
The approach has proven fruitful as White has once again been tabbed as a fill-in, stepping up to replace Jim Alers opposite Lucas Martins in the opening bout of the main card on the July 16 UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller event at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
After beginning his UFC career with a tough assignment against lightweight contender Edson Barboza, Martins dropped two divisions and collected back-to-back stoppages at bantamweight. This time around, the 25-year-old Brazilian moves back up the scale to featherweight, looking to extend his winning streak to three.
“He’s a very tough opponent. I know he came out of the Chute Boxe gym.” White said of Martins, who began his training with the famed fight team that produced the likes of Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua before moving on to train with UFC veteran Jorge Patino as part of the Macaco Gold Team.
“It’s good that I’ve been working on my angles because I believe he’s a very straightforward fighter. If I can get my angles right, I should be good.
“I know he’s fought at ’55 and then he fought at ’35, so I imagine his cardio is pretty good. I’ve been working on my angles and my wrestling, working on my cardio so I won’t run out of gas. Hopefully you’ll see a better me in this fight.”
The idea that there is still a better version of “The Spartan” capable of hitting the cage should be a scary thought for the rest of the featherweight division, as White will carry a 10-fight winning streak and three consecutive first-round stoppages into the Octagon with Martins when they meet along the boardwalk in the city that served as the inspiration for the original version of the board game Monopoly.
But that very well could be the case.
Though he earned his first professional victory in November 2010, White only started down this path to the major leagues of mixed martial arts in early 2012. Two years and six days after his second career win, he stood speechless next to Joe Rogan after scoring an impressive knockout win over Payan in Orlando.
The raw materials are there – standing six-feet tall, he’s a good size for the division and should continue to add muscle and strength as he gets older, and he’s already shown knockout power and quality finishing instincts. Given a couple more years to gain experience and further hone his skills, White could become an interesting name in the 145-pound ranks.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this quick,” White said of getting the call to the UFC when we spoke following his debut win. “I was thinking maybe a year-and-a-half, two years I would probably get (here), but I’m really happy with getting called for short notice. It didn’t give me much time to train for it, but if you put your heart, mind and soul into it, you can do just about anything.”
Even though the dream of fighting on the biggest stage in the sport has already become a reality, it still hasn’t quite sunk in for the talented featherweight prospect.
While he’s already starting to earn his stripes in the UFC, White admitted that if someone told him a year ago that at this point in his career he’d be preparing for his sophomore outing in the UFC with a first-round knockout win and a hefty bonus check in the bank already, he would have called them crazy, but that’s exactly where he stands.
“It has actually surprised me,” White said of the attention he’s received at home since his debut victory. “Going out, going to the park with my kid I have people coming up and asking me if I’m Alex White, asking for autographs. It’s neat. You get more recognition than what you’d think.”
That recognition is only going to continue to increase if the Team Destruction fighter continues to pile up impressive victories inside the Octagon, and that is precisely what he plans to do when he hits the cage for a second time.
“I’m just going to go in there and do what I do,” said the unbeaten finisher of his game plan for next week’s short-notice showdown with Martins. “I just plan on getting in his face and keeping it (this run of first-round finishes) going.
“This has the potential to be Fight of the Night. I think we’ve going to put on a great show and people are going to see more of my skill because this one will probably last longer than the first round. I think you’re going to see more fireworks.”
Alex White: More of the Same
"This has the potential to be Fight of the Night. I think we’ve going to put on a great show and people are going to see more of my skill..." - Alex White