Local MMA fighter to get shot at lightweight title
Local fighter Daniel “War Machine” Alexander moved to 4-0 last weekend, picking up a victory over Justin Smith by decision at Strikehard 16 in Tuscaloosa.
Alexander, a Thomaston native and aspiring mixed martial artist, spent much of the fight on the defensive as Smith managed a handful of takedowns that never seemed to amount to offense.
“I wanted to keep it standing and wear him down, then try to submit him. I was planning on a straight in takedown, which i worked on defending a lot, but i didn’t count on him catching the kicks,” Alexander said. “After he would take me down, I would immediately pull guard, keeping him from advancing to a dominant position. That kept the judges from giving him points for the takedown. Points are only awarded if the takedown ends with the aggressor in a dominant position. From the bottom, I was able to control him in my guard, landing more shots from the bottom. After he had grown a bit weary, I attempted an armbar wich he was able to negate.”
Much like Smith, Alexander entered Satuday’s fight after nearly a year away from the cage. The absence appeared to lead to a certain level of timidity on the part both fighters in the early stages of the contest.
“It was a good fight, Justin was a strong opponent. He gained a lot of respect from me in that fight. I hope we can have a rematch in the future. I feel like I could have done much better. I’m sure he does too. Neither one of us had been in the cage in a year, so i think we were both a bit scared going in. But the rust is knocked off now and I think you will see a much more aggressive fight in July,” Alexander, who will now get a shot at the Strikehard Lightweight Championship said. “I think I was in better shape going into the fight. I was able to keep moving and keep the pressure on the whole time. Kept on the attack, standing, striking first most times and keeping him backing up. That gave me the points for ring control, which I think won the fight in the end.”
With another notch in the win column, Alexander now turns his attention to Kobe Wall, who will challenge him for the right to take home the currently vacant lightweight title in eight weeks.
The opportunity is a considerable one for the fledgling fighter, who only recently jumped from the 145-pound to the 155-pound weight class. Alexander sees the title as a platform rather than one of personal pride.
“It means a lot to me. It gives me the chance to bring a lot of recognition to my gym and the community,” Alexander said. “DHS brought home a football state championship not long ago. I was at the game when they made Demoplis proud. Now, I would like to make it the proud home of champion fighters as well. It also gives me the chance to share my Christian faith with a lot of people in a new way and different way. This is something I like and do well with, so it’s obviously a gift God has given me.
“Therefore, I try to do it to the best of my ability and give God the glory every chance I get. A title gets a lot of people looking at you and a chance to either set a really good example or a very bad one. I would like to be a Tim Tebow in this sport and set a good example, representing the sport and my God.”
In a short amount of time, Alexander’s attitude toward the sport has changed as much as his in-ring style has. Alexander points to the weight class change as altering his in-ring approach.
“One challenge I’ve faced is I’ve given up my size advantage now,” Alexander said. “The opponents I face now may be my size or larger, so i have to fight smarter and not rely so much on strength. But that’s fine with me. It will just make me a better fighter.”
But, more noticeable than the changes to his fighting style are Alexander’s feelings toward the sport. What was once a means of proving himself as a tough guy has turned into something different, something more pure.
“I’m starting to calm down more and have more fun with it. Before I felt like I had to win in order to prove myself a tough guy. However, my pride level has gone way down over the past few years. I was never a big Mike Tyson fan, but I heard him say something one time i really agreed with, I can’t remember exactly how it goes but it is something like this. ‘Fighting is a humbling sport, and if you’re not humble it will make you humble.’ Very true words. There’s always someone out there that’s going to get the better of you. You might as well go ahead and accept it,” Alexander, who trains at Ross Martial Arts in Demopolis, said. “But that’s what makes the sport fun; you always have something to work for. I’ve had a lot of tournaments in between these fights and other competitions and if you walk into a ring and you haven’t done the work to earn that fight, i don’t care how tough you think you are, ego is not going to win it for you.”
Alexander, who will resume his studies at Alabama Southern in Thomasville in the fall, intends to go to his next class as the Strikehard Lightweight Champion. Until then, however, he’ll be putting in plenty of time in the gym, where he tries to win the fight before ever getting to the cage.
I’m always scared my opponent is training harder than me, so when i go in the gym I try to give it everything I have,” Alexander said.
“I like to feel like I’ve earned the right to win before I even step in the cage. It gives me a lot of confidence.”