He reads Edgar Allen Poe and Aristotle, writes poetry, meditates and listens to classic hard rock, like Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles and James Brown.
This sounds like a person from the hippie generation of the 60’s? But its not…it’s what inside the mind of 22-year-old Alex Caceres, an old soul stuck oddly enough in the body of a young fighter.
Caceres started off as a wrestler at Miami Killian Senior High and while he didn’t look intimidating at first because of his small stature, he quickly became a star, as well as co-captain of the team.
“I joined the wrestling team as a way to channel my anticipation and anxiety into something that was constructive not destructive,” said Caceres.
“He was a fast learner. He started with me in ninth grade and by his sophomore year he was one of the top guys on the team,” said Coach Steven Whittle.
Whittle introduced MMA to Alex, bringing some fighters from his gym over to help coach the team and that was all it took for the 14-year-old Caceres to decide he wanted to be a professional MMA fighter.
Now eight years later, this determined and focused southpaw with a nickname of “Bruce Leroy” after his childhood idol Bruce Lee, is on this season’s “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV.
He says he didn’t really plan to be on the show, his brother who is also an MMA fighter found out there were tryouts in North Carolina, they drove up and became part of the over 300 hopefuls who were auditioning.
He had to gain ten pounds to compete, which he says was not easy as he’s most comfortable fighting at 145 but he admits many of the 155-pounders seemed “really huge”.
Caceres trains seven days a week in Miami at the Young Tigers Gym, riding his bike there because he doesn’t have a car at the moment. The gym is not fancy by any means, it’s small, hot and has no air conditioning. Inside you will find a boxing ring, some free weights and a few machines.
His workout is varied and follows no set routine as he likes to keep his muscles “guessing”. “I definitely focus on my stand-up,” said Caceres. ”It’s one of my fortes and I do a lot of explosive exercises, as well as switching it up into isometric tension workouts, that switch is to help me go from grappling to striking.”
He’s also working on his defense against stronger wrestlers and his strength so he can “keep the fight where he wants it to be” and he continues to work on his Muay Thai skills. With a good jiu jistu background as well as what he calls his “killer triangle” the “Bruce Leroy” skill set is ever-evolving.
“My strength as a fighter is I’m very unpredictable and unorthodox. It’s hard to tell what I’m going to do next,” explained Caceres. “I’m a different fighter than other people. It’s not something they see all the time. I’m very inventive when I get inside the cage. I look for different ways to attack my opponent and defend against his attacks. I don’t go in there with a set game plan. I try to adapt to what is thrown at me. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for me, but for the most part it’s been working well.”
But that may not be his only asset, he goes into most of his fights in a cerebral state, remaining very calm. “I signed up for this,” admits Caceres. “This is what I wanted to do, once I’m in the fight, I know there are two things that can happen. The guy can either defend my attacks or attack me. So once I understand the situation it’s a lot easier to deal with.”
In fact, he loves the challenge so much you’ll find him smiling as he enters the cage. “It’s not meant to fake out my opponent or offend anybody,” said Caceres. “I honestly and wholeheartedly enjoy myself inside the Octagon, it’s a pleasurable experience.”
His Muay Thai, Coach Manuel Lopez, part of Cuba’s National Karate and Taekwondo team and the 1984 Central American Karate Champion couldn’t agree more. “He’s a guy that loves to fight, he concentrates and applies what he’s learned,” Lopez stated.
So far Caceres, a member of Team GSP’, has defeated Paul Barrow via rear-naked choke in the elimination round to get in the house, then defeated Jeff Lentz via triangle choke in the next round. This week Caceres will face-off against teammate Michael Johnson in the quarterfinals.
Johnson is very strong and well-rounded and will likely be the biggest test for Caceres yet. And although they are both on Team GSP, these are two guys who will have no problem trading punches in the cage.
When Caceres isn’t training or fighting he likes to jam with friends on the drums and harmonica… but if things go as he hopes on The Ultimate Fighter this week, he may very will be playing a different tune very soon.