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On Saturday night (Sunday afternoon local time), Sam Alvey will march into the Octagon for the 17th time. His opponent, hometown hero Jim Crute, will be making just his second UFC appearance. But when “Smile’n” got the call offering him a fight “Down Under,” he didn’t hesitate.
Speaking to Sherdog.com at the UFC 234 media day, Alvey spoke enthusiastically about his third fight on Australian soil, why he thinks Crute could be a force at light heavyweight, and fighting for the first time on pay-per-view.
“I love Melbourne,” he said when asked about his experience in the state’s capital thus far. “I’ve loved every city I’ve fought in in Australia. It’s way bigger than I thought it was. We landed and were taking the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, and were like ‘this is way bigger than we thought it was’… It was kind of a last minute fight, so we didn’t have a lot of time to look at stuff. It was just about getting my visa and making sure I could get here in time.”
“I was in Canada cornering a good friend of mine -- Chris Curtis -- who won by the way,” he said of how he learned there was an opportunity on the UFC 234 card. “I got a call [from my manager] saying ‘hey, you got offered a fight in Australia’ and I said ‘let’s do it, we’re in’. I called back and said ‘I need to check my weight first’ and I went and stepped on the scale, and I’m like ‘I’m OK, we’re good’… before I knew it I was out here.”
“For me it doesn’t so much matter who the opponent is,” he elaborated. “It’s me, I train all the time. I know what I’m good at, I know how I want the fight to go on my end. So that’s what I re-focus [on]… Me and the coaches, we like where I’m at. We like my strength, we like my conditioning, we like my power right now. So we’re in. We’re looking forward to having a good time.”
Asked to assess Crute, Alvey was his typical affable self, complimenting “The Brute” on his well-rounded skillset. He also informed us that he’s run into the prospect around the hotel and striking up an unlikely friendship days before they go to war.
“He’s 9-0,” Alvey said. “[Crute’s] list of weaknesses is real short. Nobody’s found one yet. I’m hoping to get in there and hand him his first loss. Let him get it out of the way, and then he never has to lose again. I’ll be rooting for him every fight after this one. He can be 100-1. I just want to make sure I’m that “1.”
“I’ve been telling everyone -- he has one of the meanest fight photos,” he elaborated. “I wasn’t expecting him to be as nice. We bumped into each other half a dozen times and we’ve chatted for a few minutes. He’s about the nicest guy that I’ve fought.”
Alvey is the underdog heading into his fight on the weekend -- a fact that raised more than a few eyebrows given his status -- but the 45-fight veteran isn’t taking anything personally. In fact, he’s sees it as more of a financial opportunity for his friends than anything else.
“I’m going to make some folks some money,” he laughed. “It doesn’t bother me at all. I actually love it when I’m the big underdog because my buddies are gonna make some money. It’s when I’m a big favorite that they’re probably not going to bet on me that much… I’m going to make my friends buy me something.”
This is the first of fight that Alvey will have on pay-per-view -- a company record that was pointed out by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Twitter. Alvey says he’s happy to have been the ‘fight night king’ for so long, but admitted that being on pay-per-view is an exciting bonus.
“It’s never been an aim of mine to get on pay-per-view,” he said. “[The UFC] offer me a fight and I always say yes before I know who they’re offering. I’m kind of a fight night king.”
“It’s really cool that I’ve had that,” he later continued. “But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this pay-per-view. I didn’t know it was a pay-per-view until like three days after [I accepted the fight]. My brother told me I was on a pay-per-view and I said ‘really?’… I got excited. I got that spike in adrenaline. I better win, I better not blow this.”