Alex White could be forgiven for being a little on edge and nervous lately.
The undefeated Team Guardian featherweight learned less than three weeks ago that he was slated to make his UFC debut on short-notice against the always-dangerous Estevan Payan at UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne in Orlando.
The Destruction MMA product knew his fight would be broadcast across the world, viewed by millions live and potentially even more after the fact.
A win, he knew, would take him a big step closer to reaching his dreams in MMA. Conversely, he understood a loss could have the very opposite effect.
The married family man was also forced to cut 30 pounds in 15 days to make his division’s 146-pound cutoff. He also added probing interviews with journalists from around the globe into an already-packed schedule.
However, White didn’t look on edge in Florida. He even took a nap from the hotel to his fight. But the man known to fans as “The Spartan” — despite his moniker — was nervous.
“The fact that it was the UFC put more pressure on the situation,” White says a few hours after having his hand raised in the Octagon. “The guys who fight in the UFC are a different caliber, so of course there was more pressure.
“I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect,” he adds. “But my plan was to move forward and put the pressure on him.”
And that’s what White did. In less than 90 seconds, he overcame an early onslaught from Payan to notch a first-round TKO victory over his more experienced opponent. The 88-second match is good for the fourth quickest fight in UFC featherweight history.
How was White able to overcome his nerves and Payan’s bad-intentioned shots in the Octagon?
“It was my training and dedication,” the surging 145-pound contender says. “But it was also the trust that people put in me — the belief that they put in me. It’s not just me out there, it’s me and all of the people who believe in me.
“After I got hit, he kind of woke me up and I realized that I had to do something,” he continues. “I’ve got to be more aggressive and start faster for next one.”
GUARDIAN SPORTS GROUP