At UFC Fight Night 143, Alonzo Menifield made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut. He was undefeated as a pro (7-0) and coming off of a first-round win in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Right away Menifield, a heavy-handed striker, was given a grappler in Vinicius Alves Moreira, who was also making his Octagon debut. Ultimately, from the get-go, the plan for Menifield was to land a big shot early to dictate the fight.
“For me personally it was like, get a big shot in the first 10 seconds and get all the grappling out of the way as he would be out of there,” Menifield told Sherdog.com “My coach initially said that he will grab [me], so hit him with fluidity and speed. Pretty much, I didn’t follow that gameplan because he fell. It was just being fluent and flow and try and get him out of there.”
Menifield ended up getting him out of there with a first-round TKO win to improve his record to 8-0. Although he did win, and did so in dominant fashion, Menifield believes he could have been better.
“Overall, after watching it, I know I can do a lot of things better,” he said. “I guess, for now, it is something I can be happy about. I could have been more poised and more controlled. As well as finding a bigger or better shot.”
Menifield thought it would be over quicker than it was, but Moreira was tougher than he anticipated.
“I thought it would come sooner but he covered up pretty good,” said Menifield. “Then I noticed he wasn’t out of there; he was looking at me like, ‘I’m from Brazil, I’m tough,’ so I just had to control myself and get ready for it.”
From the very beginning, Menifield looked cool, calm and collected, something one wouldn’t normally suspect from a fighter making his Octagon debut. However, he had seen his teammates fight in the UFC before and knew he belonged, so for him, it was just another fight.
“Well, I wouldn’t say nervous, but the lead up is up and down for all fighters. As far as stepping into the Octagon, I was ready as ever,” he said. “It was just another fight. Then I was in there with the broadcast team, like ‘DC’ and whatnot, and they were telling me what it meant. I was like ‘oh crap, ESPN!’ so I was stoked.”
Menifield saw his teammate Geoff Neal score an impressive win over Belal Muhammed earlier in the evening. That resulted in Menifield knowing he can’t be the one to lose after his teammate and friend had such a captivating performance.
“When he won in such a beautiful fashion I was like, ‘ah man so much pressure,’” Menifield said. “Then I thought, ‘I gotta get him out with a knockout,’ as I won’t be as poised as Geoff. I will throw some big shots out there and I won’t disappoint. It made it where I went in there and performed really well.”
In the end, although he believes he could have done things better, Menifield had a phenomenal debut. Now, it is back to training at Fortis MMA and continuing to get better and await his next fight, with his coach Sayif Saud in his corner.
“It has been life-changing. It has helped in a lot of ways as far as making me a complete fighter,” Menifield said. “It has helped out tremendously. I was [with the team] for my second fight. At the time it was Octagon and Fortis formed shortly thereafter. I would be there on and off, I was just doing muay Thai and I wasn’t a complete fighter. Finally, I got some sense into me and made the move to stay there.
“He has been a big help. He hasn’t just been a great coach, but also a great mentor and a great leader,” he added. “We all go in there with the sense of we don’t want to let him down because he puts in so much work into all his fighters. Coach Sayif is pretty blessed.”
Menifield has been back in the gym grinding away, waiting for his next opponent. The goal for himself is simple: continue to win and have a dominant 2019.
“I want this to be a big statement and propel me to be a force to be reckoned with,” Menifield concluded. “I’ll take it one step at a time. I let my coach guide me on whom I fight and what not, because he can see me perform in the gym. We will just take it one step at a time.”