“Smilin’” Sam Alvey, at only 26 years of age, has been a pro mixed martial artist for eight years, but it wasn’t until last fall that he finally got his shot to fight on the big stage.  The native of Wisconsin was offered the opportunity to join the cast of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson, an offer he couldn’t refuse.

However, the decision to join the 16th season of TUF was a little more challenging than it has been for most guys getting the opportunity.  At the time, Alvey, who used to fight in the light heavyweight division, was fighting as a middleweight, but TUF was casting for the welterweight division.

Although the decision was tough, Alvey couldn’t pass up the chance at a UFC contract, so he decided to lose a lot of weight in a short period of time—29 pounds in 40 days, to be exact.  This left him pretty depleted.

After a quick knockout in his fight to get in the house, Alvey was chosen as the first pick by Shane Carwin, setting the bar high for the seasoned pro.  However, in his elimination fight during episode three, he lost by majority decision to Team Nelson’s Joey Rivera.

Alvey (R) delivers a leg kick (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

The loss to Rivera hurt, but it was definitely a learning experience for Alvey.

“The biggest thing I learned in the fight with Joey is that I’m not a 170-[pound] fighter,”  admitted Alvey in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.  “The cut definitely killed me.  I shouldn’t have decided to do it.  To this day, most of my fights have been at 205.”

The cut may have put Alvey a bit out of sorts, but at least he knows where he belongs now.  Just because a fighter can make a certain weight, doesn’t necessarily mean that his body will be at 100 percent.  For Alvey, it was just too much.

However, with the camp he has been training with, one can be sure that it was not for a lack of preparation and confidence.

“I’m still at Dan Henderson’s Team Quest here in Temecula, Calif.,” said Alvey.  “I pretty much train all day, every day.”

Coming off the loss to Rivera, and TUF altogether, Alvey is anxious to get back into action, and he’s been training with some of the best coaches and training partners in the world.

“I work a lot with Dan Henderson, Tarec Saffiedine and Jesse Taylor.  Those are three of my higher-ranking training partners.  My coaches are “Pantcho” Feliciano and Daniel Woirin, that’s my jiu-jitsu and my striking coach.”

Alvey is definitely in good hands, especially considering the fact that Henderson, Saffiedine and Taylor combine for a total of 87 pro fights with a record of 67-20.  There are entire teams that don’t combine for 87 pro fights.  This camp is a great and much-needed base for Alvey going into his next fight this Friday night. It will be his first since leaving the TUF house.

Smilin’ Sam will get a shot at the Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight title in a bout with the always-entertaining champ, Elvis Mutapcic, at MFC 36: Reality Check in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Mutapcic is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, finishing all four of those opponents.  In fact, in his 14-fight career, the Bosnian-American has only gone to decision three times, two of which were his only losses.

The call from the MFC was a welcome one to say the least.  Alvey badly wanted back in the ring, and a shot at the MFC strap is a great start.

“I just needed to fight,” stated Alvey.  “I wanted to fight someone, and I wanted to fight someone good.  The MFC called us up, and it was a dream fight.  With or without the title, fighting someone with Elvis’ background and talent is just an incredible opportunity that I jumped at.”

And jump at it, he did.  Coming off a great training camp and ready to get back to his best weight class, Alvey is chomping at the bit.

“Training’s been fantastic,” Alvey explained.  “My weight’s been coming down slowly but surely, and no injuries.  I can’t say that often.  It’s usually something.  I’m feeling pretty good today.”

Mutapcic is a big-time finisher, but so is Alvey, having finished 13 of his 24 fights, with 11 coming by knockout.  Alvey is confident that he carries the advantage going into this battle.

“I think I match up a lot better than him,” said the TUF alum.  “I think I’m faster.  I’m a better striker.  And, on top of that, I’ve got a pretty good wrestling background.  So, I really like the match-up for myself.  Next Friday, I’m going to get to prove it.”

And skills are not the only strengths that “Smilin’ Sam” feels he has over Mutapcic.

“My main strengths, I’m going to credit to my team,” said Alvey.  “I work with the best team in the world.  My wife is my cornerperson, and she has completely got me ready for this fight mentally.  And, my team has been with me 100 percent of the time.”

Both Alvey and Mutapcic are really tough guys, combining for 16 knockouts and eight submissions.  The Team Quest fighter is fully aware of how crazy this battle could be, so, confident or not, he is being realistic in his expectations.

“I’m not sure how it’s going to end,” admitted Alvey.  “I suspect that it’s going to be a barnburner.  I doubt it will be over in the first round, butI don’t think it will go the distance either.  It will end somewhere between the second and fourth round.  Both of us are so experienced everywhere, it wouldn’t surprise me if it went everywhere.”

Alvey may not be sure about how the fight’s going to end, but he is positive that he will come out the victor.  His plans for the future tell the whole story.

“My next goal after this fight is to defend my title,”  Alvey said. “Hopefully, if I could fight again in May, I’d fight again in May.  I believe that’s the next MFC card.  Hopefully they can find another great opponent that I’ll get to defend my title against.  Make sure everybody knows that it’s mine.

“I’m going to win this title and be the best title holder they have ever had.”

Outside of MMA, Alvey has been a little busier than usual.

“I just got married about three weeks ago.  We’ve been together close to eight years and we meant to be married by now, but it just hadn’t worked out until then.”

Alvey (L) throws a punch (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Alvey’s new bride is McKey Alvey (nee Sullivan), winner of the eleventh cycle of America’s Next Top Model.  Outside of her professional duties in modeling, Mrs. Alvey also trains in MMA and helps with her husband’s training.

“She’s a blessing,” exclaimed Alvey.  “She knew I had this big fight coming up, and she’s a huge part of my team.  So, she took the brunt of the wedding planning.  I just signed checks.”

In addition to a professional career, wedding planning and MMA training, McKey is still in school as she works towards an advanced degree.  Since the two were married in January and Sam is in training, their honeymoon plans are temporarily on hold.

“She’s on the final semester before she starts her doctorate right now at school, so we’re going to be going on a honeymoon after this fight during her spring break.”

Spring break, after a wedding and a potential title win?  Sounds like everything is falling right into place for the Alveys.  And Sam has more motivation than ever to get the MFC gold around his waist.

But this upcoming fight is a chance for Alvey to really show the fans what he’s made of, since being brought into the spotlight on TUF.

“I want them to know—and they will after next week—that I am an exciting fighter,” said Alvey.  “I do what I can to make sure that everyone who watches the fight leaves the arena, leaves the TV set, happy and looking forward to seeing me fight again.”

With McKey and his other cornerpeople by his side, “Smilin’” Sam Alvey looks to put on a big show in his run for the MFC middleweight title this Friday night.  Weeks after his fight, he will hit the road for his honeymoon and, undoubtedly, get right back into camp with the hopes of defending his newly-won belt at MFC 37 in May.


Sam would like to thank Team Quest, “They’ve been with me 100 percent.  They’re the best team in the world.”  He would also like to thank his wife, also part of his team, “Probably the most important part.  She does everything for me with my fighting.  She knows when I should be training, how I should be training.”  He would also like to thank his strength and conditioning coaches at Dynamic Fitness, “They’ve done everything in their power to make sure I’m good to go.” Follow Alvey on Twitter: @smilensam


Top Photo: Sam Alvey (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator
  • Robby Collins

    Alvey’s a very underrated fighter. And having your wife corner for you…priceless.