Team Alpha Male has been on quite a role this past year and the new blood keeps pouring in. Enter Alex Sandoval, the 13-3 flyweight standout who has been part of Team Alpha Male since 2009.
After falling short in his UFC debut versus current title challenger Wilson Reis, he bounced back with a win over Olympic wrestler Fredy Serrano in his hometown of Sacramento. Now he has drawn TUF alum Matt Schnell next month in Nashville.
For Sandoval, not making the Ultimate Fighter cast in the last season didn’t set him back as he now finds himself a fight or two away from entering the flyweight mix. He will take on American Top Team’s Matt “Danger” Schnell in a fight that he feels very confident in.
“Yeah he’s a good opponent and it’s perfect for me because I was supposed to be on the Ultimate Fighter and it didn’t work out,” Sandoval explained. “So it’s perfect for me to beat somebody up that was on the show.”
“I think all these guys are dangerous, it’s just who has the better night and that’s going to be me. I watched some of his fights and I’m not really impressed. He’s got like simple combinations and stuff so I’m not really worried about any of that.”
Team Alpha Male have a pretty solid track record in terms of UFC debuts with Cody Garbrandt, Andre Fili, Josh Emmett, Paige VanZant and Cynthia Calvillo all picking up wins but for Sandoval, there wasn’t much expectation from the fans when taking on a top 3 flyweight on short notice. Sandoval however, looks at it in a whole different way.
“Wilson, I saved his life,” Sandoval explained. “I saved that man’s life. I went in there and fought a fight that wasn’t my fight and if I had went in there and fought my fight, I would have finished him but I forgot that I was at the highest level. I forgot that I was fighting a vet that was at the highest level but that’s never going to happen to me again. I believed that I was going to take him out in one round and it almost happened. I learned from that and I’m ready to rock.”
“I felt like I could beat him. I’m training in the best gym in the world and if they believe that I could beat that guy and take him out on two weeks’ notice then I believe it but shit happens you know.”
He was then able to rebound 5 months later when he out grappled and outpaced the Olympian Fredy Serrano. He was finally able to show what he’s capable of on a full fight camp.
“Yeah for sure, 100% just having the belief that you can beat anyone in the world and at their best, what they’re good at,” Sandoval said on out grappling Serrano. “Going into any of these fights I’m ready to go. Just the training partners that I have, no one comes near the guys I’m training with so if I’m having a good day in practice then it’s perfect.”
Sandoval was able to enjoy his win in front on his hometown of Sacramento. A card he shared with fellow teammates, including Urijah Faber, his mentor who was entering the octagon for the final time in his MMA career. The whole experience for Sandoval and the team was quite unforgettable.
“That was a great moment for everyone. Just being a part of Team Alpha Male for going on 8/9 years and to fight alongside Urijah Faber was awesome for me and I’ll always remember it.”
“That was great, just getting to wake up in your own bed and not having to sleep in the hotel. Training like 12 blocks from the arena, everything was perfect. The fight was at 1 o’clock and we usually spar from 10:30-11:30 so it was perfect.”
In a flyweight division that is lacking stars, Sandoval has a golden opportunity. Training at one of the best gyms in the world, he is surrounded by world class coaches and training partners.
“There are so many guys at the highest level and even the amateurs are at the highest level,” Sandoval said on training at TAM. “We get people that come from all over the world and they come here and get beat up by our amateurs so there are a lot of amateurs that give me great sparring rounds too.”
With an impressive win over Schnell, Sandoval could find himself in flyweight contention and he is confident that by the end of the year he will be a top ranked fighter.
“I feel like I should be in the top 10 myself and I’m going to show the world this year. I’m going to beat Schnell and be top 10 by the end of the year hopefully. I want to fight a ranked opponent now. I want to beat him and fight ranked opponents and work my way to fight for the world title which I should fight for the world title soon.”
With the big bantamweight title fight looming, Sandoval has shared the mat with both Garbrandt and Dillashaw on numerous occasions over the years. A Team Alpha Male fighter for almost 10 years, Sandoval is confident that his teammate Garbrandt will get the job done.
“It’s a great fight. I feel like TJ will be moving around pretty good but at the end of the day I think Cody’s going to get the job done, probably finish him or fight five rounds but Cody is definitely going to get the job done… Definitely.”
Despite having his team out in Vegas for the Ultimate Fighter, Sandoval didn’t get a chance to go as he is fully focused on his upcoming fight in Nashville. Whether a finish or a decision, he believes he will beat Matt Schnell wherever the fight goes.
“Maybe a kick to the body, maybe punch to the body it just depends what he leaves open. Maybe head kick, maybe knockout. I’m ready to fight 15 minutes if we have to and if I’m able to knock him out good but I got to be careful.”