Local MMA fighter wins championship

Daniel Alexander earned the Featherweight Title for the 145-pound weight class in Island Fights Friday night in Pensacola, Fla.

Thomaston resident Daniel Alexander’s path to Island Fights’ Featherweight title lasted a little longer than he expected.

Alexander, a local mixed martial artist who trains at Demopolis’ Ross Martial Arts and Fitness, was set to face Brandon Jenkins for the championship in Pensacola, Fla. Oct. 12. A late postponement of that card left Jenkins time to reconsider his career. Jenkins opted to turn pro and vacate the title, leaving Alexander to face an unknown in Bret Adams.

Alexander finally achieved his goal Friday night when he defeated Adams after a second round stoppage. As the competitors readied for the third round, the decision was made that Adams was unfit to continue, earning Alexander his first championship.

“It’s great. It feels really good. Not just because I’ve got a belt of course, but because of all the work that we put into this fight. It’s a lot more than goes into a normal fight,” Alexander said of the rewarding feeling that accompanied the win. “You’ve got to be ready to go five rounds if you need to. So we had to put in a lot of work. It was a lot of countless hours in the gym and it just really felt good to see all that work pay off in the end.”

Over the course of the two-round fight, Alexander controlled his opponent via grapples and submissions on a number of occasions while also landing a series of knees to the body that likely contributed to Adams’ downfall. Alexander said the strategy he employed against Adams was largely similar to that which he would have utilized in a fight against Jenkins.

“The guy I was going to fight before, the game plan was to throw a lot of leg kicks in the beginning and take him down in the later rounds and just use my Jiu-Jitsu and tap him out. The game plan pretty much stayed the same for this guy,” Alexander said. “He was a boxer and had some boxing experience. I’m a boxer myself. I trained boxing for a little while, so I felt fairly comfortable just boxing and throwing a lot of leg kicks.”

Alexander, whose record moves to 5-1 after the win, pointed to his leg kicks and recently added Muay Thai elements as key to his victory.

“The greatest advantage, I think, was probably my leg kicks. I used a lot more of the leg kicks and I used a lot more of the Muay Thai clinch, which I’ve never used in any of my previous fights,” Alexander said. “After my last fight when I lost to Kobe Wall, he beat me with knees in a Muay Thai clinch. So, I immediately recognized that was something I needed to work on. So I went straight down to Mobile and I started training that. So I get the feel of that Muay Thai clinch pretty quick.”

Alexander said the next step will be to defend the 145-pound crown. And there also exists the potential for a return to the Alabama-based Strike Hard Productions. While his future in the sport he loves has yet to be determined, Alexander indicated he is pleased with the path he has taken thus far.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a fighter. I think, looking back on it, I wasn’t nearly as tough as I thought I was. The more I’ve gotten into it and gone around to other gym’s and looked at other people and other people’s training, the way they do things outside of Alabama, I thought, wait a minute, I’m way behind. I feel like my training has gotten a lot more advanced,” he said. “Cardio and everything has gone up a lot. The way we work out in here with Ronda, the cardio and core strength and conditioning training we do, compared to where I was when I first started, there is no comparison. It has gotten a lot harder, Jiu-Jitsu training and everything really. I’ve gone from not training in the gi to being a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”