Alan Belcher had enough reasons to step away from fighting eight years ago.
In his last fight in 2013 at UFC 159 against Michael Bisping, Belcher suffered a technical decision loss after being poked in the eye. He received eight stitches on his eyelid after the fight and had already undergone surgeries on his right eye after suffering vision loss due to a detached retina. He also had a bum shoulder that he felt wasn’t getting better.
There were also other factors pulling at him away from the octagon. His entrepreneurial endeavors yielded him enough revenue that continuing to put his body on the line no longer necessary. Two and half years after that fight, Belcher formally announced his retirement.
This past May, however, Belcher decided to give fighting another shot, signing a multi-fight deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. He makes his heavyweight bare-knuckle boxing debut Friday, Aug. 20 in the co-main event for BKFC 20 against another MMA veteran, Tony Lopez, Belcher’s debut also will be in held in his home state at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS.
We’re all in this journey in our life to do whatever we want to do and ultimately be happy. I was fighting and at age 29, I had a couple of eye surgeries and to be honest, I feel like I went through what a lot of fighters go through, and I just didn’t understand it. That’s the struggle, pressure, anxiety, the wanting to be the best and battling the question of am I chasing this dream too far? Am I taking away from my family? At that moment, if I had the right guidance or the mindset that I have right now, I probably could have dealt with it differently. I had started to get into business, and I just went in a different direction.
I spent the last eight years learning a lot about myself and working on myself. About a year ago, I made the decision to really get dialed in on being the best version of myself. I took my health, my body, my mind and how I interacted with people more seriously, and that created new beliefs for me. I’m doing this to challenge myself. It’s been a long time since I fought, and I’m a big believer of finding out who you are and what you’re made of because what you say doesn’t always match the actions. Whenever you get into a fight, you’re going to be faced with extreme emotions and physical challenges that are going to try and break you.
For me, fighting again has nothing to do with fame or money or any of that. It’s just a personal challenge to absolutely be the best version of myself and find out what I’m made of. No one has to understand that. I don’t give a s*** what anybody thinks. I’m just having fun living the life that I always wanted to live and be the person I wanted to be. It starts every single day with my health. Every choice that I make by putting good nourishment into my body, surrounding myself with the right people. When I do something, I go all in. This is the first time in my life in which I cleared my plate of everything else.
I’ve known for a long time that focus is key. Focusing in on one thing is a critical factor in success. I sold my businesses, my home, got out of a relationship I was in for a couple of years. For me to be the best version of myself for my kids, my family and if I ever do get into a new relationship, I have to take this further. I haven’t gone far enough. There’s still a lot left on the table and it’s not money based. For the last eight years, I’ve been in every type of business — from real estate, brokering big deals, internet marketing. I’ve made a media and consulting company. I’ve opened gyms and what I found out was that money isn’t fulfilling at all.
The pursuit of money isn’t even fulfilling. It doesn’t make you happy. What I found that makes me happy is accomplishing something that is hard, getting through that and growing from it. The way I look at things is the past is in the past. Right now is the present moment and that’s where I live.
I’ve been completely sober since the end of February. I had a big business retreat, brought a lot of millionaires and investors to Tulum, Mexico. We partied our asses off — especially me. That was the last straw for me because I was starting to live a healthier lifestyle but there was still alcohol there. There was a lot of Xanax because of my anxiety, and even coffee — a thousand milligrams of caffeine a day. I was always amped up. It was espressos after americanos. I was the worst overeater.
I no longer chase those dopamine highs now. I’m focusing on being the best I can, winning this BKFC belt and going from there.
I’ve changed the way I work out, eat and everything. The mindset comes first. What I was doing was justifying things, like eating ice cream because it’s a cheat day. It was justifying lies and we lie to ourselves so much. I just made the choice to stop being a liar. Being able to be honest with yourself is something that a lot of people can’t do. When I started doing that, I started making the right decisions.
I used to fight at 185 and it was a hard weight cut for me. From the age of 18, I was never below 200 pounds and now I’m fighting at 185. I’m already starving myself to make the weight. Now, I eat to build muscle, recover, and nourish my body. I don’t eat sugar, but I can eat whatever I want. I had pizza recently, but I prepped for that. I made sure that it was a reward and that I earned it.
I’m eating every three hours. It has to be the exact number of macros and whatever I need, I get.
Signing with BKFC has a lot to do with the company being built in my backyard. When they first started coming in a couple of years ago, I collaborated with (Founder and President of BKFC) David Feldman just to work together in the industry. He brought me in for a meeting two years ago and we briefly talked about fighting. I wasn’t interested at that time because I was done and thought I would never fight again. Somehow or another, things changed and lined up. The company being in my backyard is one of the biggest things for me. A lot of people know me around there and what bigger and better way to come back than in your hometown and put my ass on the line in front of everyone.
The biggest challenge for me is not worrying winning or losing, letting people down and being in the moment and doing the best I can. It’s a big challenge and it adds pressure. In a lot of ways, it makes it easy and super fun. I sold my house, and I bought a camper. Through training camp, I live in a camper. It’s a simple life and I got what I need. I’m right by the Coliseum so I see it every single day. It’s a cool experience and I’m enjoying it more than anything I ever have in life.
ALIGNING YOURSELF WITH LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS
To create my environment, I stopped looking for people and I started worrying about myself and working on myself. When I did that, people started aligning with me. The first person that came apart of this team with is my friend Robby Ellis. He saw what I was doing, and we started working on physical therapy. My shoulder started giving me problems a few months ago. I could jab and hook, but it wasn’t where I needed it to be. I consulted with doctors, and they would say we could do surgery and it might be helpful, but Robby believed we could fix it.
Robby, Tyler Hill and these guys that I connect with are on the same wavelength and path and we’re growing together and helping one another.
APPROACHING TRAINING AND NUTRITION
One concept that I believe in is there is no perfect way or diet that works best for one person. If you were to do something that was recommended, like say a low-car diet. There would be a period you did it and you would have to change it to something else. There is no endgame to this. As your body changes, you have to change with it. For me, I eat high carbs. If you’re on a low-carb diet trying to be a fighter, it’s because you have to make weight. It’s high, complex carbohydrate diet works best for me. It boosts my metabolism and generally I stick to around 50 to 60% complex carbs for my meals with 10 to 20% good fats. The rest is protein. I fast at least one day a week, like after a cheat day or my off days to give my stomach a rest.
It’s a 12- to 15-hour fast, but it changes based on how my body feels. Gut health is really important to me. Another thing I see I’m doing different than a lot of guys out here is I put a high priority on my gut. Bovine colostrum, red and green supplements from 1st Phorm, which is a really good company. It’s so important to have the proper gut environment to breakdown the food. A year ago, I couldn’t have a pizza and then go to bed. I would be up all night digesting that thing. Now, I can eat an entire pizza and it’s gone in three hours and I’m ready to eat again.
I used to do handfuls of ibuprofens two to three times a day just because I felt I needed it to be loose or I had a headache and an achy shoulder. That’s just tearing you stomach up. I haven’t had one since February. I don’t do the artificial sweeteners. I’m not only trying to be the BKFC heavyweight champ, but I want to be the fittest person I can be. We have just one life and one body and it’s a huge challenge for any man or woman to sculpt their body to how they want. Fighting and athletic ability are what’s important for me but I also do lift for aesthetics. I do a lot of heavy lifting, high intensity training, plyometric training, work with Indian sticks and Bulgarian bags. Mobility is huge for me. I’m more flexible than I ever been. To go into the training, lifting, and conditioning we’re doing is intense and I do this full time. It’s every day and all day.
NO EXPECTATIONS, JUST PREPARATION
I’ve learned to not have expectations. Confidence is understanding the risks and being honest with yourself and what you bring to the table. What you’ll see from me is me attempting to perform at the highest level I can and get myself in the zone. The way I operate in the ring is exciting, explosive and there’s a lot of badassery going on in there, which is the icing on the cake. The W is important to me but more important are the mental challenges. If I get beat, so be it and it’s going to have to be by a better person but I won’t beat myself.
Tony Lopez is someone I respect. He is an OG, has a lot of fights under his belt. The dude can take punches, he keeps coming forward and he’s crafty. You can probably expect a bloody war and a big ass smile on my face because this is fun.