John Alessio bids to join GSP as Canadian MMA welterweight champion
Thu Mar 22, 6:08 PM

By Neil Davidson

(CP) - Come Saturday night, Canada could have two 170-pound mixed martial arts world champions.

Georges St. Pierre already holds the UFC welterweight title. John (The Natural) Alessio plans to join him Saturday by beating American Carlos Condit for the vacant World Extreme Cagefighting championship belt.

"I'm ready to bang," Alessio told The Canadian Press from Las Vegas. "I'm ready to go five rounds, if need be."

"It ain't going five," he added.

The Alessio-Condit matchup is one of three title fights on the card at WEC 26 in the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Urijah Faber defends his featherweight (145-pound) crown against undefeated Dominick Cruz and Eddie Wineland puts his bantamweight (135-pound) title on the line against Chase Beebe.

In action on the eight-fight undercard, Joe (Diesel) Riggs returns to WEC after a so-so stint in the UFC to take on judo expert Hiromitsi Miura.

The card is the second for WEC since it was purchased in November by Zuffa Inc., which owns the UFC.

Alessio, 27, is a B.C., native who now calls Las Vegas home, having left Southern California for Nevada to train at Randy (The Natural) Couture's new gym.

Alessio likes Sin City but says there have been no wild nights.

"All I've been doing man is eat, sleep and train. You won't catch me at the club scene until after the fight."

Alessio (18-10) is a well-rounded veteran who has fought in both UFC and Pride as well as a slew of other organizations. At UFC 60, he turned heads with a gutsy showing against Diego (The Nightmare) Sanchez, losing a decision he still thinks should have gone his way.

Condit (19-4) is a native of Albuquerque, N.M., who has won his last four outings.

"I'm not taking Carlos Condit lightly by any means," said Alessio.

"But he's not going to present anything to me that I haven't seen or been in before," he added. "I'm just going to impose my game plan and my will."

At six foot one, Condit has a height advantage on the 5-9 Alessio. But the Canadian has been working out with tall, lanky fighters like 6-1 Mike Pyle and Jason Miller, and 6-6 Kendall Grove.

Condit, 22, has good Muay Thai and skills and knows how to lock on an armbar and triangle choke - he has 10 submission victories. His scalps include Frank Trigg and Renato Verissimo.

He calls Alessio a solid opponent with excellent athletic ability. "And he's tough."

Like Alessio, Condit doesn't think the fight will go to the judges.

"I'm a finisher," he said.

Condit says the title fight is coming at just the right time.

"I've never felt as ready for a fight as I've felt for this one. I'm really hungry for it. And I feel like I'm in a great place."

So says Alessio.

"This is the most confident I've ever been," said Alessio.

He is quick to note that confidence is different from cockiness. That wasn't the case two fights ago when he lost to Thiago Alves in the UFC, a mistake Alessio says won't happen again.

Alessio will have friends and family on hand Saturday night. His father is flying in from Duncan, B.C., as well as friends from B.C.