When a 21-year-old Alex Caceres appeared on season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, his attitude rubbed many people the wrong way. That group included the fighters that appeared alongside him on TUF, as well as fans that watched the show during its run on Spike TV.
More than three years have passed since his time on the show, and Caceres is no longer just the "guy with an afro and a kung-fu suit," he's a maturing mixed martial artist with his eye on his future, and his mind on the past.
On Saturday night, Caceres faced Sergio Pettis on the preliminary portion of the UFC on Fox 10 fight card. Despite entering the fight as a pronounced underdog, Caceres earned the victory with a third round submission. Caceres' performance netted him an extra $100,000 as he took home both Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night honors for his performance inside Chicago's United Center.
After his win, Caceres spoke to Ariel Helwani and said he wanted to take that bonus money and begin the process of buying some land in Oregon where he planned to eventually maintain a self-sufficient farm.
When asked about the change in attitude we have seen since his days in the TUF house, the nine-fight UFC combatant said he had been doing a lot of soul-searching as of late. Remarking on what that soul-searching revealed, Caceres said, "The more I go through my life I just realize I don't want what everyone else wants, or what they think they want, which is the clothes, the cars and the big house. I like being around nature and want to get back to my roots and try and get back to the self that we all miss when we're growing up."
Caceres expanded on that idea by saying, "We're always told what to be, how to be, what to wear, what to do, what's good. That's other people telling you. When you actually listen to yourself, listen to that inner child that you had since you were a kid; you wanted to be something incredible. I think we lost that a little on the way, and the more I start getting back to that, the more I start remembering who I was instead of finding myself, or finding a new self, I'm just remembering who I was."
The win over Pettis moved Caceres' overall record to 10-5-0-1. He is 4-0-0-1 in his last five fights, with the only blemish during that run being his positive drug test that resulted in Caceres' split decision win over Kyung Ho Kang being ruled a no contest.
Caceres' goal for his next fight is to face a top ten ranked bantamweight opponent on the main card of a UFC event.