Undefeated heavyweight Alton Meeks hasn’t made himself a household name just yet. However, the 25-year-old has racked up more experience training in Southern Florida than his three-fight professional record would make you believe.
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Meeks is yet another example of lifelong athletes transitioning to mixed martial arts. The 3-0 fighter played college football at Iowa State before transferring to Northern Illinois University due to a reported lack of playing time. After college, Meeks returned to wrestling competition, a sport he competed in high school, and found success in the Greco Roman world, getting onto the Olympic ladder.
The transition to MMA was not something that had crossed Meeks’ mind, but it certainly seems like he made the right choice.
In a recent interview with John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock, Meeks recalls the events that lead to his eventual debut in the sport:
“I didn’t have much of a plan getting into MMA,” Meeks explained. “One of my wrestling coaches from high school was working with a guy that was in the UFC named Alex Nicholson; now he’s in the PFL, he said, ‘hey man, do you want to come in and just help this guy with wrestling?’ I said, ‘yeah, sure. No problem. I’ll come in.'”
While helping Nicholson with wrestling, the idea of Meeks trying his hand in MMA was born and before long, he was making his MMA debut.
“I kind of just showed up,” Meeks said in regards to his MMA debut, a debut that happened a week after training with Nicholson. “It was pretty surreal, you know, that’s pretty scary walking to the cage.”
Meeks won the fight by decision and has gone on to win his next five fights; two amateur and three professional. None of those five fights have lasted more than two minutes. The 25-year-old still trains with Nicholson regularly. Volkan Oezdemir brought in the 3-0 fighter to help him prepare for Daniel Cormier ahead of their championship bout. While he still bounces around the best gyms Southern Florida has to offer when needed, sparring with guys like Matt Mitrione and Luke Rockhold, Meeks has found a more permanent home at Fusion X-Cel alongside the likes of “Jacare” Souza and Mike Perry.
Now, only three fights into his professional career, Meeks will have the opportunity to earn himself a UFC contract on “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” where he will be able to use the experience in Southern Florida to help him in the most significant moment of his career.
An undefeated heavyweight clash on the “Contender Series”
On June 18, Meeks will find himself across the cage from Yorgen de Castro, a fellow undefeated heavyweight a 4-0, but six years Meeks’ elder. After a rough amateur career which saw Castro lose his final four fights before turning pro, de Castro has won his first four pro bouts including three under the CES banner.
When asked about his opponent, Meeks admits that beyond specific tape study, his eyes aren’t on the regional scene.
“I don’t really pay much attention,” Meeks told The Body Lock. “I watch UFC, Bellator, one of my really good friends is in ONE FC, Troy Worthen, so I started to pay attention to a lot of stuff over there in Asia and that’s kinda growing and getting really big, but as far as the regional scene I haven’t been paying much attention to it.”
That’s not to say Alton will go into his fight without any idea of what his opponent brings to the table.
“I’ve watched some film. He’s good on the feet, and he’s got really heavy hands, he throws a lot of heavy right hands, a lot of overhands. That’s a pretty typical gameplan for a guy, you know, who’s a little on the shorter side for a heavyweight.”
In 2020, most Americans will be heading to the polls to choose the next President after long campaigns from their favorite (or not-so-favorite) politicians. Alton Meeks envisions ending a campaign trail of his own in 2020; a trail towards the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
The way Meeks sees it, the heavyweight division is only getting older, and even the elite are “on their way out.” A top-notch athlete like Meeks believes he has what it takes to dominate the division before long.
“I think that, you know, I have a rare athleticism that comes with wrestling. A lot of guys in America, if they’re my size and a good athlete, they’re looking to play college football and they’re going to try and play in the NFL. If that doesn’t work out, they’re not gonna learn a whole new sport and do MMA … I’ve been wrestling since I was four or five and got done playing football, decided to wrestle again and got on the Olympic ladder. So I think I have a unique skill set that nobody in the UFC really has.”
The first step in the “Meeks 2020” heavyweight title campaign will take its first step on June 18. Meeks will not only have to worry about securing a win but impressing Dana White enough to secure a contract so that he can show the world the danger he brings to the heavyweight division.
With youth, athleticism and experience training with some of the top guys Florida has to offer, don’t be surprised if you see Meeks in some high profile UFC fights before long.
A 29-year-old paralegal by day, but I rather write. MMA nut since '04.