Maximum Fighting Championship’s middleweight title has been vacant for some time, but the promotion plans to change that on Friday night, live from the Shaw Convention Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

In the main event of MFC 38, “Smilin’” Sam Alvey, a former contestant of The Ultimate Fighter, will square off with a man largely considered a hidden gem in the world of MMA, 35-year-old Jason “The Mover” South. South will enter the ring with a 10-0 pro record, dating back to 2008. Alvey, whose pro career also began in 2008, may not have an undefeated record, but at only 27 years of age, Smilin’ Sam has been in 26 pro fights, emerging with 12 knockouts and two submission victories. South, on the other hand, has stopped all of his opponents, with nine of those wins coming by submission.

For the middleweight title fight, MFC set up a classic striker vs. grappler contest, but the grappler has pretty nice striking, while the striker is very effective on the ground. With Alvey hailing from Dan Henderson’s Team Quest in California and South’s camp consisting of a combination of The Pit Elevated and Unified BJJ in Utah, one can be sure that both men are coming into the ring prepared for a war.

Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Alvey – 10, South – 9

South may be the grappler in this affair, but he’s not too bad on his feet.  He has done some pretty extensive training with Muay Thai masters, but it doesn’t always show. In his last fight with Phil Dace, South pretty much threw one punch or kick at a time, mostly kicks, and consistently put his back against the cage with little to no control of the center of the ring. When Dace came in to strike, South took it to the mat, never really attempting a stand-up exchange.

Alvey will push the striking, but he is more calculating with his attacks. He has 12 knockouts for a reason. He has heavy hands that provide no mercy on the receiving end. Alvey throws more combinations than South, incorporating a good mix of hands and feet. Alvey also uses better head movement and won’t come charging forward where South can just catch a leg and take it to the mat.

If this fight stays standing, Alvey should win handily, but that’s easier said than done.

Submission Grappling: Alvey – 9, South – 10

Alvey gets world-class coaching in striking and wrestling at Team Quest, but their fighters are not necessarily known for submissions. Alvey can definitely hang, but if this one gets down, he may be in trouble.

South is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has been known to train at several schools simultaneously. On the ground, he is unstoppable. As long as he can keep his opponent on the mat, he will win the fight, and even a guy with Alvey’s level of experience could have a very hard time stopping South’s submission attack. South is a creative, versatile submission artist with world-class transitions. In his fight with Dace, he switched from a guillotine choke to a triangle choke to a triangle armbar and back to a triangle choke, which Dace eventually submitted to. That whole transition series took about a minute.

While there is no doubt that Alvey is proficient on the ground, his skill level is minimal compared to South’s. However, will South get Alvey to the ground?

Wrestling: Alvey – 10, South – 9

South’s submissions may be pretty amazing, but his takedowns are fairly rudimentary. In fact, catching a sloppy kick to dump his opponent backwards is not exactly a slickster move. For having a ton of high-end wrestlers for training partners at The Pit Elevated, South hasn’t seemed to pick up a lot in the way of takedowns or ground control. When the fight hits the mat, South needs to work quickly for a BJJ-type hold, because his control factor isn’t anywhere near a wrestler’s.

Alvey does a much better job with in that regard. He is a big, strong middleweight that uses a page right out of the Team Quest handbook when in the clinch or in top control on the ground. He has solid takedown defense, which will pose big problems for South. Alvey has only one loss by submission, because of his ability to keep the fight standing. His superior wrestling is a big part of that.

South may be the better grappler, but Alvey’s wrestling is so good that this one may not get into South’s wheelhouse.


Alvey is a very well-seasoned pro. He has been on some big stages, including Bellator, King of the Cage and his stint on TUF. This will be his third fight under the MFC banner, so he is no stranger to this specific show. South has only fought in Utah, and his last three fights were for his own gym’s promotion, similar to what Greg Jackson does in Albuquerque, N.M. Alvey has fought much tougher fighters than South has, and, after getting a taste of the UFC, Alvey is ready to get a title around his waist to show the world he’s no joke. Alvey’s experience is the x-factor that could easily tip the scales his way.

Total: Alvey – 29, South – 28

Verdict: South may be a diamond in the rough in some people’s eyes, but Alvey is just an exciting fighter. He pushes the pace, keeps the fight standing, and has only been stopped once in 26 fights for a reason—he’s tough as nails. South may have a submitter’s chance if he can get Alvey in a precarious situation, but getting Alvey to the ground is no easy feat. On the feet, it’s no contest. Even if South can get a couple good shots in, he’ll never knock out Alvey, because he doesn’t have the power. Look for Alvey to clip South early and take this one by TKO.

Photo: Sam Alvey (Jacob Bos/Sherdog)

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Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator