Sam Alvey really takes the whole glass half full thing to a new level.
Rarely seen without a smile on his face — thus the reason for his nickname, “Smile’n” Sam Alvey — the 37-year-old veteran said goodbye to his UFC career just over one year ago but hasn’t slowed down since then. He picked up a win in his first post-UFC fight and then scored a knockout in his Karate Combat debut.
Those victories put Alvey back on track after suffering through a four-year, nine-fight winless streak that marred his final run with the UFC. As disappointing as it was to go out like that, Alvey still finds a way to put a positive spin on his time with the promotion.
“I was about as successful a fighter as there has ever been,” Alvey told MMA Fighting. “I had 25 fights in the world’s largest organization. I never held the belt but I did make it into the top 10. I did better in my sport that most people do in whatever sport they’re a part of.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic consider most fighters dream of just making it to the UFC, much less spending nine years there.
Of course, Alvey heard the criticism from fans about how the UFC kept giving him chances to get back on track despite other veterans getting cut after only a loss or two in the promotion. According to Alvey, the outside noise never served as a distraction, much less an annoyance, because he knew he earned his way to every opportunity he received.
Whether that was stepping up on short notice or taking on opponents no one else would, Alvey never refused the call from the UFC. And make no mistake about it, he went into every fight convinced he would win.
“It never bothered me,” Alvey said. “At every point, it felt like I was going to break the curse, I was going to break the streak, I was going to go out on top. It didn’t happen, but not for a moment did I feel I was not good enough to break that curse. To this day, I feel like I could face any man on the planet and beat them on any particular day.
“Sean Strickland and I are buddies and I’ve beaten him before. I feel like I could beat him again. Would it happen in the title fight? I don’t know. I wouldn’t bet on me because Sean’s pretty good, but I have beaten him in the past. I know I could be talked about when you talk about talented fighters. So it never bothered me.”
Alvey understands that combat sports operates on a “what have you done for me lately” principle, and for his last nine fights in the UFC, he couldn’t produce a win.
That being said, Alvey still stands proud of almost every performance — he confesses his final UFC fight was just a butt-kicking — but he never felt overwhelmed or out of place and there were still plenty of people backing him.
“I understand MMA fans are always looking for the best now and what have they done for me now, and those guys are easy to shut out,” Alvey said. “I get so much love on my social media and when I meet people. Still, any time when I go anywhere, I get recognized at least once or twice, and it’s such a rewarding feeling knowing what I’ve done, what I’ve spent my life doing has been appreciated by more people than not.”
Despite the struggles he faced in the UFC, Alvey never once contemplated retirement after he completed his contract. He immediately started fielding phone calls from promoters interested in retaining his services, and it didn’t take long to start finding fights.
More than anything, Alvey refused to let his record show that his career ended without a win in his final nine fights.
“That was very much on my mind, on my soul,” Alvey said. “I know how good I am. I know what I’ve done to accomplish what I’ve accomplished. I was not going out on a red streak. On Tapology, if you lose, it’s red; if you win, it’s green. I wasn’t going out on all that red. I was going out to prove I’m still good enough to hang with most people.”
While he was open to all offers, Alvey revealed that he came really close to making a transition from MMA to bare-knuckle fighting after he began speaking to BKFC. Unfortunately, Alvey claims that the promotion kept him dangling on the hook for the better part of a year without ever actually getting him under contract or booking a fight.
“BKFC kind of wasted a year of my career after the UFC,” Alvey said. “So they would have to come in with a real good offer [if they wanted me now] because they kind of pissed me off this last year. The rotten guys, they were very nice to my face. They said we’ll make something happen and they asked what I wanted, I gave them a big number expecting a smaller number to come back. They said, ‘We’ll see what we can do.’ They said, ‘We found a Russia fight, they want a part of you.’ I said OK, I’ll fight in Russia. It was two weeks’ notice on Christmas day in Russia and they wanted an ex-UFC 205-pounder, and then Russia said no.
“BKFC kept saying, ‘June, we’ll have a fight for you.’ I said OK, I turned down a couple other fights, and then June came and went and nothing. Then it was, ‘We didn’t mean June, it’s going to be August.’ OK, August. They just kept saying it’s coming, it’s coming, it’s coming, and then nothing came. It was just real upsetting. Because I was thrilled to work with them.”
Once the BKFC dream died, Alvey instead turned his attention to Karate Combat after watching old friend and Bellator veteran Raymond Daniels fight there. Alvey reached out, and soon enough the promotion showed interest in signing him to a deal.
He ultimately scored a knockout in his debut and now Alvey is proud to call Karate Combat his home, although he’s still open to any other offers that might come his way — including a last-minute return to the UFC.
“I’m sticking around for more [with Karate Combat],” Alvey said. “They treated me really well. It was a pleasure to get to work with them and I signed a contract with them.”
“That would be the dream [to return to the UFC]. It doesn’t happen often. I wasn’t cut but I wasn’t re-signed. It never happens. I would love the opportunity. As much as I love Karate Combat and I want to make their promotion as good as a promotion as it truly is, being that guy to get a call again from the UFC, that would truly make my heart [happy].”
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