Sam Alvey saw the writing on the wall.
After falling to 0-7-1 in his past eight fights following a submission loss to Brendan Allen back in February, the 36-year-old veteran expected to hear the news that the UFC was releasing him from his contract. In fact, when UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard’s name popped up on his phone days after his fight, Alvey had already braced himself for the news.
“I was walking into a YMCA and Mick Maynard called,” Alvey revealed The Fighter vs. The Writer. “My wife happened to be walking out so I grabbed her real quick and we went to the car and she chatted with us. My wife and I knew we were going to get cut. There’s just no two ways about it. He decided not to cut us.
“He said ‘we’ve talked to Dana [White], we talked to everyone and these are the reasons.’ They kind of said you’ve taken a lot of fights that most people wouldn’t have taken. Short notice, you’ve gone across seas, you’ve always shown up and your fights are always entertaining and on top of all that, he said you are a joy to work with. When you come to fight week, when you come to the [UFC Performance Institute], when you do anything like that, your team is someone everyone is excited to see, everyone is excited to work with. You bring a positivity with you that most fighters don’t. We appreciate that.”
Alvey was understandably shocked because he had already assumed he’d be looking for a new promotion to call home for his next fight after a self-admitted terrible run in his last eight fights.
Instead with just one fight remaining on his contract, the UFC was going to allow Alvey the chance to compete inside the octagon again, although a friendly suggestion was made that perhaps he should consider that the end of the road for his entire career.
“He said we recommend you retire afterwards but we’ll let you fight out [the last fight on your deal]Alvey said. “It was kind of like you’re probably not going to retire but we’re going to say we recommend it. We’ll see what happens. I’m going to go out, I’m going to fight to get re-signed. They were very nice about it.
“This is my 25th fight in the UFC. I’ve been there for the last decade. I’ve had a lot of good fights, a lot of ‘the night’ [bonus] performances and they also said you’ve had a lot of judges’ decisions that they don’t quite agree with. Between all of those reasons, we’re going to let you fight out your contract and I said well thank you so much, you just made my day. I’m going to run on the treadmill and get ready for the next one. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since that phone call. I’ve been re-energized, re-hyped and I’m fighting for the future of ‘Smilin’ Sam.’”
Since Alvey first announced that the UFC was going to give him one more fight, he’s seemingly heard from every corner of social media about how he doesn’t deserve the opportunity.
While he’s also received plenty of comments along the way from fans rooting for him to find success again, the one-time Ultimate Fighter contender knows negativity almost always rings louder.
That said, Alvey hopes he’ll get the chance to silence those voices with his performance on Saturday at UFC Vegas 59.
“I’m very excited to get off this long, miserable skid I’ve been on,” Alvey said. “Just leave the internet speechless. That’s kind of what I’m looking forward to.
“I’m looking forward to getting this next win under my belt so I can say ‘yeah, well I won my last one … don’t look at anything before that.'”
There’s no understating the magnitude of his fight against Michał Oleksiejczuk, which serves as the featured prelim on the card, because a loss absolutely cements Alvey’s exit from the UFC.
On the flipside, Alvey knows a win doesn’t necessarily guarantee the UFC will be rushing backstage to offer him a new contract unless he pulls off something truly spectacular with his performance.
Those kinds of heightened expectations can easily bring out the best or the worst in any fighter but Alvey prefers not to go to such extremes even as his future potentially dangles in the balance.
“There’s always pressure,” Alvey explained. “I’m the provider for my family. So every win, every fight, everything I’ve got going, I’ve got to win to provide for my family. So the pressure of getting re-signed or not getting re-signed, I’ve got talents outside of fighting.
“So worst case scenario, I break my toe on the way to the cage and it’s automatic [I lose], the good Lord’s on my shoulder, whatever’s next, I will be successful at that as well. However, this fight is what’s next for me. I’ve trained my ass off. I know what I’ve done. I know who I’m supposed to fight, as of now, and I know what I have done to prepare for this fight has been more than enough.”
If this is ultimately the end of the road for Alvey in the UFC, he’s comfortable with the resume he put together because he’s still managed to spend the majority of his career competing in the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world.
Of course, Alvey still believes deep down that this isn’t the curtain call on his UFC career but rather a chance to turn the page to a new chapter.
“I don’t feel any more pressure than I normally would. I’ve done more in this sport than most people ever will and I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to do. I’m going to be even more proud when I break this skid.
“I’m going to win. I’m going to make a lot of new fans doing it and they’re going to give me a new contract.”