A smile can go a long way. They are certainly contagious, too. Smiles can express joy, sorrow, pain or happiness. They can even be sinister. People express emotion in different ways, and some folks smile much more than others.
“Smile’n” Sam Alvey is known for flashing his big pearly whites in just about any situation. When he was on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, he was depleted, fighting 15 pounds lighter than his normal weight, but the smiles never ceased. When he won and defended the Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight strap in Canada, it was smiles galore. Alvey got married, had two kids, was brought into the UFC, and went on a 3-1 run with three knockouts in a row, and it’s been ear-to-ear the whole way.
Last August, in Alvey’s most recent battle, Derek Brunson handed him the first knockout loss of his career. It was a bitter loss, because nothing like that had happened before, but he still smiled in defeat. It was a big shock and a big lesson, as well.
“I was very surprised,” Alvey told Combat Press. “He was a rotten guy, because he was supposed to wrestle me, but he decided to punch me in the face instead. It was my mistake.
“When I look back on that Brunson fight, I dared him to punch me. I stood in front of him, and he stood in front of me, and I left all movement aside. He gave me the punch, and I can’t stand to feel like that. It worked in the past, but I’m at a new level of competition in the UFC and I can’t make mistakes like that anymore.”
Alvey’s style has always been to stand and bang. Seventeen of his wins have been by knockout, and only three of his 34 fights have ended in submission. If an opponent steps into the cage with Alvey, they better be prepared to bring the heat or go the distance. This is pretty standard fare for a Team Quest fighter training under the legendary Dan Henderson.
Training has been business as usual for Alvey for several years, but one recent change almost wiped the smile of his face. It wasn’t an opponent, but a training partner that took him to task.
“The biggest change I’ve had is that Sean Strickland is officially part of the team, and he’s about the greatest training partner a guy could have,” Alvey said. “Sean Strickland actually kicked me in the face, and he broke my jaw. I was wired shut for six weeks, and I was put on rest for another six weeks after that. The day I was allowed to train again, I was training again.”
Alvey is not the type of guy to go long without a fight. Since 2009, he has fought no less than three times a year, and in 2010, he entered the ring eight times. At this point in 2016, he is over five months in and has yet to fight. Did that shot from Strickland finally hurt Alvey’s smile?
“Nobody can mess up this smile,” Alvey said passionately. “I smile through the soul. It just shows through the mouth.”
Still smiling after a 10-month layoff, Alvey will finally enter the ring again this Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 89. Standing across the cage will be the winner of the fifth international season of TUF, Elias Theodorou.
Theodorou was the hair model that came in and won all three TUF fights, which included the finale, before entering the UFC and taking his undefeated record to 11-0. In December, though, the Canadian’s streak came to a screeching halt when he was defeated in a three-round battle against Brazilian Thiago Santos. Alvey could not have been happier.
“It’s a fight I’ve been calling out for a little more than a year now, and he lost his last fight, so he couldn’t dodge me anymore,” Alvey said. “He had no choice but to say yes this time.
“He’s an incredible opponent. He won The Ultimate Fighter for a reason. He’s very good. He kicks hard, he’s got conditioning for days, and he’s able to keep it standing or go to the ground. I have to be on my game to win this fight, and I’m going to be on my game. He’s a very worthy adversary.”
Saturday’s fight with Theodorou is the next step for Alvey to get back on track after his layoff. With another child on the way, he’s got a lot on his plate, but he still plans on getting his yearly quota of fights in.
“I want to fight another three times by the end of December,” Alvey said. “That’s three times in the next six months. I had a little bit of an injury at the beginning of this year, and it set me way back. I’ve got to make up for lost time and bust a few more heads.”
“Smile’n” Sam Alvey is a machine. He fights often, he fights hard, and he never quits. He always puts on a show for the fans. Brunson put an unusual ding on his record and Strickland got a clean shot on his jaw, but with another baby on the way and another fight on the docket, fans can expect one hell of a smile come Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 89, live from the TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.