In the hour before Alonzo Menifield sat down with UFC.com, he found out his fight with William Knight was off and that he would be facing Fabio Cherant at UFC 260. The light heavyweight walked into his interview, undeterred from the change of opponent and with a smile as big as ever on his face.
Calm, cool and collected.
That’s the Menifield way, regardless of who is standing across from him in the UFC Octagon. Last minute changes don’t change the mission or the outcome for Menifield; he’s just happy to be competing.
“Normally you probably would be panicky and what not, but I’m happy, I’m ecstatic,” Menifield told UFC.com. “I think it’s a good opportunity for him too and mainly for me because I’ve had all these switch-a-ronis.”
The “switch-a-ronis” that Menifield is referring to is his multiple scrapped fights with Knight, Ovince Saint Preux and Devin Clark. He’s learned to roll with the fight week punches and find a zone that he thrives in.
Menifield does admit that finding that zone has been a process, something he wishes he would have had when he fought OSP last September. He used that knockout loss as a lesson, finding physical and mental aspects of his game that needed to be re-evaluated.
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He’s confident that his preparation in the lead-up to UFC 260 had him more than ready for Knight, Cherant, Jan Blachowicz or any man that stepped into that cage inside the UFC APEX.
“I moved on from it. I’ve pretty much been thinking about what I’ve done that was a mistake, running into a punch and having a different mindset that I shouldn’t have going into a fight. Learning that there is a fighter’s mindset when you have it, for me, I’m like money,” Menifield said. “I display that in practice, and I’ve been performing real, real good. It’s something magical. That’s how I’m approaching this whole week, as if I was fighting William Knight or whoever.”
"Given it’s light heavyweight, it may not last that long.”@AlonzoMenifield reacts to getting a new opponent just four days before #UFC260, lessons from his last two fights and how long it will take him to figure out Fabio Cherant 🔊⬆️— UFC News (@UFCNews) March 25, 2021
Order #UFC260 ➡️: https://t.co/LqL6GVNxPI pic.twitter.com/vFA8UwktWa
Those training sessions with fellow light heavyweights Ryan Spann and Kennedy Nzechukwu at Fortis MMA in Dallas have helped Menifield add to his game. He gains confidence from training with two guys as talented as Spann and Nzechukwu, and he believes the work he put in since that OSP defeat will translate against Cherant.
At the same time, he knows he will have to improvise against Cherant, who recently became LFA’s light heavyweight champion. Cherant has nothing to lose in this bout and has plenty to gain in beating a highly thought of prospect like Menifield.
“Atomic” thinks it will take only a few minutes for him to figure out Cherant and after that he’ll find out his kryptonite.
“Within a few minutes you can figure out an opponent, maybe three. He might do the first round and come out completely different in the second round and I have to figure him out then or in the third,” Menifield said. “Given it’s light heavyweight, it may not last that long.”
Only one of Menifield’s 11 career fights have gone the three round distance, so the 33-year-old is typically good on his word. He knows it won’t be easy, but he knows that the key is using variety of skills to make sure that he takes care of business against Cherant.
“Be a complete MMA fighter, grind him out, punch him out, kick him out and whatever it takes,” Menifield said. “That may be the first, second or third round, but I’m ready for all 15 minutes and I’m thankful for my opponent.”