Thursday, February 22, 2007

Alessio talks WEC belt, Carlos Condit

By Keith Mills

On March 24th WEC return for their second show under Zuffa ownership. Last time Rob McCullough won the Lightweight title, this time the Welterweight title in on the line between John Alessio and Carlos Condit. John is the former KOTC Champion as well as a vet of UFC and Pride. Carlos came in second in the ROTR Welterweight tournament last year, losing to Jake Shields in the finals. Both Carlos and John fought on WEC’s January 20th event with John beating Brian Gassaway and Carlos beating Kyle Jensen.

In the ADCC News archives are several updates with John throughout his career. Although John is 0-3 in the UFC his losses have been to former Champion Pat Miletich, top contender Diego Sanchez, and top up-and-comer Thiago Alves. He also has wins over former KOTC Champions and UFC vets Ronald Jhun and Chris Brennan.

KM: How is everything going this training cycle?
JA: Good. I moved to Las Vegas and have been training full-time with Randy Couture and all the guys out there. Jay Hieron, Mike Pyle, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Eric Pele, Phil Baroni…Couture Extreme Training Center.

KM: What made you decide to make the move, to take that chance?
JA: I trained there for my last fight and it felt really good. Everything felt perfect. The good thing about Vegas from where I lived before is it is only a three hour drive so I can go back and see my son as much as I want. If I wanted to fly it is only a forty-five minute flight. I can still see him regularly and get the best possible training.

KM: Would you say you found a ‘home’ for your training?
JA: For right now. I’m actually one of the instructors there now. I love (Jeremy) Horn’s place and I felt really comfortable there. Same thing with Arizona, me and Joe Riggs are really close. The difference is every day there is anywhere from five to ten guys you watch on TV fight whether it be UFC or Pride or IFL. When I went to Horn’s we had to put training camps together; I came in, Riggs came in, Jay Hieron came in, other people flew in but it is not an everyday thing where you have all the partners to train with.

KM: You are an instructor at the Couture Extreme Training Center. Given the level of guys there is it a distraction at all?
JA: It is just a couple classes a week actually. It doesn’t take anything out of my time.

KM: It sounds like previously you would build a training camp with guys the level of those you train with regularly now.
JA: Pretty much.

KM: What do you think of fighting Carlos Condit?
JA: I think it is a great fight. He is a really tough kid, has a great record, and has different ways to finish people. He is a finisher so I think it is going to be a good, exciting fight. The way both our styles are we are both going to have to fight hard and it will be pretty explosive I think.

KM: What did you see in his fight in WEC?
JA: He fought a seasoned veteran Kyle Jensen. I don’t know how good Jensen is so I really want to watch the Frank Trigg fight and (Renato) ‘Charuto’ (Verissimo) fight where he threw a knee up and caught him. I’m definitely going to be careful of the knees. Jake Shields never submitted him but he got tapped out in his next fight against Pat Healy. I’m definitely going to be ready for anything.

KM: What about fighting for the WEC belt itself?
JA: I’m excited. When Zuffa bought them I made it my goal, I want that belt. If I’m going to be here for now I’m going to be the one to beat. It doesn’t matter to me the WEC or UFC, I’m more about what the contract says and what I’m getting paid. Right now the WEC is taking very good care of me and I’m happy about that. I know there are plans to build it up side-by-side and maybe have title unifications and I’d love that. If I win the belt in my fight and defend it two or three times you never know, Diego Sanchez may be the Welterweight Champion and we can rematch for the title unification. That would be big, a dream come true for me. Diego better keep working and we’ll do it again.

KM: Tell me about how your last fight went, the win over Gassaway?
JA: It went perfect in my eyes, from the weigh-ins to getting up the next day to fight. Everything felt good. I took it right to him, wasn’t much of a feeling out process. I clinched up with him and slammed him to the mat. I was in half mount, elbowed a couple times, mount, he gave me his back, we went from back to mount to back to mount a couple times until I sunk the choke. Once I sunk the choke it was over with about fifteen seconds left in the round.

KM: That was your third rear choke win in two years.
JA: Yeah, my last three fights in a row that I’ve won have been rear naked choke.

KM: Does that have anything to do with a change in training or possibly that people are underestimating your ground?
JA: No, I’ve always been confident when I’d get a person’s back. If people are underestimating my ground they really need to use their head a little more. You can’t underestimate anybody anymore.

KM: You have fought in WEC before Zuffa bought them. You were also in Pride, UFC, and several other shows. From that perspective what was fighting in the ‘new’ WEC like?
JA: It was just like the UFC. A lot of the UFC people were there, everything ran super smooth and on-time. Just like the UFC.

KM: You are now training with Couture’s gym but your old teammates are finding some success. Javi was just in EliteXC, Mac is in Pride, and Gabe is next. Javi’s doing his thing with Cesar now but regarding the old Millennia guys in general would it be accurate to say you ‘moved on’ or ‘left behind’ the California group?
JA: Oh, no. I’m going to be going back there at the end of the month and training there. They are my boys, they’ll be my friends forever. This is what I have to do to be the best possible fighter. There at my weight I only have Romi.

KM: Sponsors to thank?
JA: Jostes Concrete, United By Lending, Warrior Wear, and A&G Custom Sounds.

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