LEGENDS – Alex Polizzi
MADISON, Wis. — Nothing seems to deter Beloit native Alex Polizzi from a successful MMA career.
Not signing up for a bigger stage with promoter Bellator. Not a former champion as an opponent.
Not even a global pandemic.
Polizzi, who turned pro in 2018, stepped up in the MMA world when he inked a deal with Bellator in February.
It wasn’t long after signing the deal that COVID-19 reared its ugly head and shut down the sporting world, MMA included.
His 2020 season’s restart went off without a hitch, as he defeated former champion Rafael Carvalho of Brazil in a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) on Sept. 11 in Connecticut.
“This has been a long time coming,” Polizzi said. “Right after I signed with Bellator, the pandemic happened and all of a sudden there were no sports. So be able to come out and put on a show for some good people, that felt great.”
Polizzi, now 7-0 as a professional, was in control of the match from early in the contest.
“I’m happy that Bellator gave me a shot to be in a match like this,” Polizzi said. “Not everybody gets the chance to use the skills they’ve developed. My skills just happen to be hurting people, and I’m glad to be able to use them.”
This was the first time Polizzi had come to a decision to obtain a victory, something he said will be beneficial in the long term.
“I think it’s really important to be able to show that you can empty the gas tank and still come out on top,” Polizzi said. “Whether it takes 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 25, I want to show that I’m going to be there for the duration.”
Polizzi said the pandemic has had its challenges for a fighter who also works moving pianos.
“Like everyone, this has been tough to deal with,” Polizzi said. “I’m lucky enough that I was only laid off work for a couple of weeks here in Madison. I was actually able to take a little time when I was laid off and built a squat bench with some 4×4’s, so that was fun. I was able to get my workouts in after a while and generally able to stay sane in these troubling times.”
The Northwestern University graduate went back and focused on the fundamentals during his time off.
“It’s always for me a system of going back and watching my old film,” Polizzi said. “I figure out where I goofed up here and there. The one thing that I’ve really worked on is getting lighter on my feet. As a former wrestler, I tend to be heavy-footed and plod forward like an immovable force. In MMA, that’s not always the best strategy. I need to have a little more movement and angles and a little less straight ahead.”
Signing a contract with Bellator was a huge step in Polizzi’s goal to put down the pianos and eventually become a full-time fighter.
“Whenever people have asked me about it, I tell them that I’m in this to have fun,” Polizzi said. “This is a blast for me. Right now I’m on the undercard, and the next step is to get on the main card. That’s what’s going to lead me to more opportunities to have better fights, more challenging opponents and a chance to go full-time. It’s definitely something I can see myself doing.”
Bellator has been taking all of the necessary precautions in light of the pandemic’s continued hold on the country.
“There won’t be any fans in the arena at all,” Polizzi said. “There are just the fighters, the referee, the judges and the corner men. So it’s going to be real quiet in there. I flew into Connecticut last week and immediately had to quarantine and get tested. They are taking our temperature daily, and everyone has their own area in the locker room. They are taking it really seriously with the safety measures.”
As his star continues to rise, Polizzi reflects on the start of his career as an amateur.
“When I started all this, it was just to get a solid workout in and have some fun,” Polizzi said. “When I stopped wrestling after college, I wanted something to keep me in shape. I had it in the back of my head to do this some day as a pro, but a full-time career, I didn’t see that coming. But a couple fights down the road, who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to pay rent just by punching people. That would be nice.”
Plans for his next bout are uncertain at this time, but Polizzi is likely to show up with what has become a signature for him: Temporary tattoos. “They’d all washed off by the end of the fight, but Polizzi was happy to explain them. “When I first started, I was no tattoos, and a lot of fighters nowadays get all inked up. And I thought, ‘I want a piece of that!’ Times are tough, the quarter machines at Woodman’s never disappoint. Throw a couple quarters in there, get inked up on a dime!”