On Saturday night, just two days after his 33rd birthday, John Alessio will enter the Octagon in search of his first UFC victory in what will be his 50th professional fight.

The Vancouver native has made Las Vegas his home away from home for years now, training out of MMA super camp Xtreme Couture. The fact that this fight in particular will be in his hometown just makes it that much more special.

“It’s hard to explain how excited I am for Saturday night” Alessio told the MMA Corner. “I’m really excited, really pumped up, 50th fight in the UFC, kicking off the prelims on FX, July 5th is also my birthday, so the weekend couldn’t get any better.”

Alessio (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

On the other side of the cage will be Shane Roller, a NCAA Division I wrestler and three-time All-American out of powerhouse Oklahoma State. Therefore, wrestling has been the focal point of this camp for “The Natural.”

“Roller is a tough guy. He comes in with a good wrestling pedigree,” Alessio said of his opponent. “But with that being said, I feel like I’m definitely the better striker and I feel like I’m the better submission guy and I’ve worked my wrestling very hard for this fight. You’re going to see a much improved takedown defense, and don’t be surprised if I take him down.”

When the referee gives Alessio and Roller the go-ahead, the birthday boy won’t waste any time getting down to business. While he is mindful of Roller’s wrestling pedigree, he’s clear on the fact that he’s planning on finishing the fight. He has 25 finishes—11 KO’s and 14 submissions—thus far in his career and he’ll be looking for the knockout come Saturday night.

“I am 100 percent going for the knockout,” declared Alessio. “I want that bonus. I want to excite the crowd, I’m here to entertain. I’m not here to just win a fight, I’m not going out there to fight not to lose,  I’m going out there to finish this guy off.”

Regardless of the outcome, there is one person who will be excited, win or lose, knockout or decision, and that is his seven-year-old son. Upon the conclusion of the fight, father and son will embark on a camping trip in the mountains of Utah. It will be the younger Alessio’s first fishing trip, and the older Alessio couldn’t be more excited to spend quality time with his little boy.

Alessio (R) delivers a right hand (Heavy MMA)

“It’s just awesome having that much freedom in between fights, not having to work your typical nine-to-five Monday through Friday,” the proud father said while speaking about what it means to him to have a job that allows him to spend so much quality time with his son. “He lives with his mom most of the time, so I’ll have him for the next month, probably, after this fight and I don’t have to worry about hitting the office every day and finding a babysitter. I’m just going to be able to spend a lot of quality time. You know, all-around I’m living my dream job, so it’s just amazing.”

With a father-son trip waiting in the wings, Alessio will be looking to cap off his birthday weekend with his 35th career victory in his 50th career fight. Not a bad way to spend your Fourth of July weekend.

Top Photo: John Alessio prepares for battle (Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Paige Berger

Relatively new to the sport of MMA, Paige is a life long athlete. She attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was a pioneer member of the women's ice hockey program. She also excelled in softball and soccer before deciding to focus on hockey. Born and raised in New York, she is an avid Yankees fan. Currently residing in Las Vegas, a move she made after falling in love with MMA while training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., she is currently studying public relations and advertising at UNLV.