Undefeated Dutch middleweight / light heavyweight (he’s competed in both weight classes thus far in his career) Alain Van De Merckt is coming off the fifth win of his professional career last month. Having competed as a heavyweight in his amateur days (he holds a submission win over standout Slim Trabelsi), Van De Merckt has spent the entirety of his pro run fight for Levels Fight League.
We caught up with the rising prospect following his LFL9 win over Vladimir Gunzu — his fourth straight submission victory.
Q. Prior to coming to MMA what other sports did you compete in and how well did you do?
A. I started with French kickboxing Savate and K1
Q. What got you into MMA?
A. I thought I couldn’t make money out of that so I thought boxing or MMA and the MMA coach was a better match for me.
Q. What made you decide to go pro when you did?
A. Normally I planned to go pro way back but I suffered a knockout loss so I did another amateur fight and then I had corona and some injuries that canceled my pro debut.
Q. Do you remember the first time you walked into an MMA gym?
A. Yes I was beating them standing up but they were beating me on the ground.
Q. Who are you currently training with?
A. I train at combat brothers in Breda with Reinier de Ridder, Erko Jun, and Pieter Buist.
Q. Can you talk about where you’re from and how MMA is developing there?
A. I’m from Brussels, Belgium. MMA is evolving since when I started. There are more gyms and they are getting more professional than before. We have some good upcoming talents but I don’t train MMA in Belgium as I think the Netherlands is a step up.
Q. You have one career loss from when you were an amateur. What did you learn from that fight?
A. Watch out for short-notice fights. I had to cut extra weight for that fight and it fucked my stamina and he was a southpaw so I wasn’t prepared for that.
Q. From your first pro fight to know where do you think you improved the most?
A. My first pro fight I trained every discipline separately and now I try to fusion them together. My stand up improved the most after I started MMA. I focused too much on my ground game and after my fight with Slim Trabelsi I forget a bit about my stand up
Q. Is the UFC your ultimate goal or are you open to other options?
A. Yes the UFC is the ultimate goal but PFL is getting big also so why not. I like their playoff semi-final as it schemes the best wins, not the most marketable guy. PFL Europe came to me for a spot in the light-heavyweight tournament but if it was middleweight I would’ve accepted.
Q. Is MMA your full-time job? If not, what are you do but if so what did you do before?
A. No, I work part-time in a gym called Basic fit and sometimes I work as a bouncer.
Q. What do you like to do outside of fighting and training?
A. Traveling, smoking a cigar, playing chess, looking for TV shows, and being in the hood.
Q. For anyone that’s never seen you fight what would you tell them to expect?
A. Finishes, simple as that. Decision is not winning a fight. Finishing a fight is what makes me feel great.
Q. Do/did you have any inspirations in combat sports?
A. My coach Reinier de Ridder. He didn’t have a coach and managed to become One Championship double-champ on his own. In MMA you can come from anywhere. If you’re good you will climb the ladder you don’t have to come from this team or be from that nationality.
Q. Last question. Why do you fight and who do you fight for?
A. I want to see how far I can go. I like this so much. A duel me or him to see who is the best. I fight for fun not for someone I would prefer to play tennis but fighting is what I like.