Alex White: I just want to get better, go against tough opponents, and evolve in my fights

In Mixed Martial Arts, the difference between competing on the regional scene with nothing guaranteed but another grueling day at the gym and being a part of the UFC umbrella is a single day.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Just weeks before the UFC would return to national television with it’s eleventh FOX card, 25-year-old featherweight Alex White became a living, breathing embodiment of that idea.

A normal day for Alex White consists of waking up in the wee hours of the morning to train his conditioning, working from 8-5 at a company that houses medical equipment, returning to the Destruction MMA gym to work with Joe Worden, White’s longtime coach, sharpening his skills until late in the night and then heading back home to spend some time with his family before repeating the cycle, once again.

A cycle that was eventually interrupted by a phone call. A phone call that White had earned through success in the cage that saw him go undefeated in all nine of his fights, finishing all but one of them.

“My manager called my coach, told him, and then my coach told me,” said White.

The dialogue in those phone calls was simple, yet vastly important for White.

The UFC on FOX 11 card had a bump in the road when former WEC champ Mike Brown was forced to withdraw from his featherweight bout with Estevan Payan, and with less than three weeks to go before showtime, Alex White was offered to step in for Brown.

White obliged, beginning a hard weight-cut process that saw him get down from 170 pounds to 146. A feat that was made much easier thanks to the help of his coach’s wife, Erica Worden.

“She [Worden] went out bought groceries for me and helped me prepare them for work,” said White. “She helped me during the diet. That was a big thing that I needed help with.”

While White earned his spot in the UFC from because of his work inside the cage, he never would have stepped inside a gym if hadn’t have been for his mother.

“She [White’s mom] was having healthy problems. I came down and she told about this gym, and I went there. I was only going to go for a week or two,” said White. “I kind’ve got into it. It was like a calling, like a strong urge to keep going with it. So I decided to move down here [Farmington, MO].”

Being 19 years old at the time, White admitted that he lacked direction in his life, which is why he now appreciates the sport so much. Mixed Martial Arts provided him with something to work towards.

“[Before he started training] I was just wanting to party with my friends and drink,” said White. “[MMA] turned me away and gave me something to look forward to. Truthfully, I didn’t have anything to look forward to.”

And now, White does. And after his promotional debut, White also provided MMA fans with something to look forward to as well.

Against Estevan Payan, White pressured his opponent with strikes, dropped him with a left and landed several ground and pound shots to win the fight in the first round. White’s reputation for finishing fights grew with that being the ninth stoppage win in his career.

White is an exciting, fresh face in the UFC’s featherweight division. He possesses dangerous hands and approaches fights with a fan-friendly, aggressive style. While a newcomer UFC fighters is eager to get the fame and the glory right away, White understands the process. He went through it on the regional MMA scene, and he’ll continue to go through it. But this time, it’ll be under the UFC umbrella.

“Right now, I just want to get better, go against tough opponents and evolve in my fights.”