Alex White has finished his last three opponents inside one round. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
When Alex White was 4 years old, he accidentally ingested a near-fatal dose of gasoline during a family vacation to Walt Disney World. No one could have foreseen his miraculous recovery, much less wrap their arms around the idea that he would someday thrive as a professional prizefighter.
Now 25, White sports an undefeated MMA record, with nine finishes among his 10 career victories. The Team Destruction representative made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut at UFC on Fox 11 in April, when he filled in for injured former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Mike Thomas Brown on short notice and stopped Estevan Payan with first-round punches at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. The bout lasted less than 90 seconds but allowed White to plant his flag in the UFC’s featherweight division.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, White discusses his triumphant UFC debut, the unlikely road he traveled to the Octagon, his pursuits away from the cage and what the future might hold for the man they call “The Spartan.”
Sherdog.com: I am guessing you have grown tired of people asking you about your life story -- i.e. the incident in which you ingested gasoline as a child. Are you at a point now where you want to start talking less about that and more about your abilities as a mixed martial artist?
White: In a way, I guess. Everybody seems to know about it now. Bad things happen, but there has been a lot of great stuff that has happened with me, with everyone. At first, it was mostly about that story. Now most of the questions are about what’s next for me, you know? I don’t have all the answer for them yet.
Sherdog.com: How would you describe the feeling of winning a fight inside the Octagon and winning it decisively, as you did against Payan at UFC on Fox 11?
White: As you could tell that night, I had nothing to say. I just went blank. Like I said, I was excited. I was like a little kid at Christmas, so much joy. I’m hoping next time I'll have more to say (laughs).
Sherdog.com: What are your short-term goals in the UFC?
White: Basically, I just want to continue what I’m doing now. Hopefully, I can make a name for myself, fight tough opponents and put on good shows. I’ll be happy with that.
Sherdog.com: Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
White: The people who I train with. They push me and keep me going during training. They make me want to push harder, to be better than they are.
Sherdog.com: How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
White: I would describe myself as a guy who put his heart and soul into it -- in both my training and fighting. I’m very dedicated to fighting, and I hope it shows.
Sherdog.com: When did you know MMA was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
White: Really, it just kind of happened. I was doing it to see how far I could go with it and eventually I turned professional. I didn’t expect to become a professional, but within a year, I thought that maybe I could make it; that’s what I’m still trying to do.
Sherdog.com: How are you going to spend the $50,000 performance-bonus money you won at UFC on Fox 11?
White: My wife and I looked into houses by the gym. We’re spending it wisely, taking care of some bills. That’s basically what we’re going to work on. It’s not very exciting.
Sherdog.com: What’s the worst job you have ever had?
White: It wasn’t even that bad, but I guess farming. It wasn’t bad, but working with the pigs and the smell ... I did odd jobs with my landlord for a few years when I was a lot younger. I’d help him and he’d give me some extra money in the summer. It wasn’t that bad.
Sherdog.com: What would be something people in MMA might be surprised to know about you?
White: (Laughs) I’ve never had that question before. I don’t really watch the UFC. I don’t know any of the UFC fighters or anything. I like to play tennis. I like to get out and play tennis with my buddies. That’s something that I really enjoy. I’m better at fighting than tennis, but I’d like to think I’m pretty good.
Sherdog.com: Twenty years from now, when you are finished with your fighting career, what will people be saying about Alex White?
White: Hopefully, they will say that he was just a good old boy and that he got in there and got the job done. It could be pretty simple.