Growing up, kids dream of being able to visit Orlando, Fla. The city is known around the globe as the “Theme Park Capital of the World.” It’s lure to the mind of a child is almost captivating.

Alex “The Spartan” White isn’t a kid anymore, but there is still something about visiting Orlando this coming weekend that has a sense of magic about it. The ice cream and sodas that fill the theme parks may be replaced with water and a weight cut. And the roller coasters? Well, they will be replaced by a thrill ride like no other when White steps inside the famed Octagon for the very first time at UFC on Fox 11 on April 19.

“It feels like I have achieved most of my goals. Now, I just have to make a name for myself in the UFC,” White told The MMA Corner. “I wanna see how far I can push myself. I’ve got this, I’ve made it this far and I gotta keep going. I wanna show people, you know, that this kid has it, and I want them to give me fights around the world. I love going to different places and experiencing different cultures. That’s one of my favorite things to do, and if I can do that through the UFC, that’d be awesome.”

Leading into the bout, White’s opponent, Estevan Payan, is riding back-to-back losses in the Octagon and has yet to taste victory in his UFC career. For White, that makes Payan a dangerous opponent. He certainly isn’t discounting Payan’s survival instincts kicking in when the pair meet in Orlando.

“From what I’ve heard, the people that he fought were actually pretty tough,” White said. “I’m not gonna take anything away from him. This is a serious fight. I’m gonna go in there and go as hard as I can and win.”

Prior to his bout on April 19, White had been taking some downtime from the confines of mixed martial arts competition to try his hand at boxing. The plan was to try something different and better refine his skills to continue to excel inside the cage.

For any fighter, whether they are making their debut in the UFC or they are a seasoned veteran of the Octagon, taking a fight on short notice, without their usual preparation, can be considered risky business. A good training camp can make all the difference in the world.

“I would have liked to have a longer one,” White admitted. “I was training for boxing, because I had that boxing fight coming up, so I had to change my training a little bit.

“I’m hoping that I’m going to show off my stand-up skills and show them what I’m made of. Yeah, I would have liked some more time. But either way, when the UFC calls, you don’t tell ‘em no [laughs].”

Young fighters dream of that call. The timing of the call is everything. It only takes the phone being picked up around an infamous date on the calendar to think that what is happening is too good to be true.

“Charles [McCarthy] called [UFC matchmaker] Joe [Silva] in the morning on April 2, and then Joe called me and I thought it was an April Fools’ joke,” White said. “I was like, ‘No, Joe, April 1 is over, today is the second,’ but he was like, ‘No, this is serious, start cutting your weight and get into the gym,’ and I was like, ‘Are you for real?’”

Sporting an unblemished record with nine professional wins, White enters the Octagon without having yet tasted defeat. As far as “Octagon Jitters” go, White is right up there with every other newcomer who has crossed the threshold and entered the UFC cage. Whilst Payan could very well be served his walking papers with a loss, White still has the most at stake in the biggest fight of his young career. However, he is also honest with himself about what April 19 could mean to his undefeated record.

“Yeah, I’m nervous. This is the biggest stage—it’s the UFC,” White said. “I wanna show that I can do this and earn respect. I wasn’t expecting it this fast. I was kinda surprised about that. I was kinda expecting maybe the end of this year or next year, and I was happy I got the call.

“I don’t wanna lose. I train not to lose. I’m gonna try and keep my record, but if it happens, it happens. I know that after the last couple of days, with the news of the fight, that I have lots more supporters than I thought, so I can’t let them down and I can’t let myself down. And I’m gonna keep that record.”

With everything that White has worked for over the years leading up to this point, he is able to say one thing that many budding mixed martial artists’ can never say: He made it. His chance to impress and progress his career comes in Orlando in a fight that he was more than happy to put his hand up for on short notice. Most people go to Orlando to see the sights and enjoy a nice vacation, but, on April 19, White gets the opportunity to take his life to a place that he never thought would be possible.

Alex would like to thank his wife and family, all of his training partners, his coach and good friend Joe Worden and everybody at Destruction MMA. He would also like to thank his sponsors: Destruction MMA, Universal Fitness, S2BJJ, Venum Fightwear, GRiT Mouthguards/GRiT Nation, Hoods Discount Home Centers, 5 Star Pizza LLC, Cash City Fight Club, Courtways Cafe and Grill, Freedom Waste LLC, JW Leather Co., Missouri Land Company, MMA Futures, S&G Asphalt and San Soucie Bail Bonds. Follow White on Twitter: @Alex_White_145

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.