Welcome back,?Alan

It has been nearly 14 months to the day since Alan Hoelzle last stepped into the octagon.

Reconstructive surgery to repair an ACL put Hoelzle out of commission for the past year, but come Saturday, he will be back in the cage at the Rochester Armory for Gladius 3.

His opponent will be Aaron Jeffery of Team Ascension.

Hoelzle now fights out of Elevation Combat Sports Academy in Fredonia. He tore his ACL during training and did not realize the severity of the injury at the time.

“It happened in December of 2011 before I fought Kevin Ayers,” Hoelzle explained. “And I didn’t think it was that bad of an injury. I picked up another fight the following week. I fought in that fight and finished it early. That promotion asked me to fight again. I started training harder and realized the injury was too much. I fought twice on a torn ACL.”

During his layoff, Hoelzle put on 50 pounds. After accepting the fight in mid-January, Hoelzle began training again to cut down to 185 for the match.

“At first it was tough to diet right,” he said. “Fourteen months of eating pizza every day for lunch is a tough habit to break. I tried to have a fight in November in Ohio, but my opponent backed out. This one in Rochester is perfect.”

Hoelzle has trained at Kinetix Combat Sports & Fitness in Jamestown, as well as Elevation Combat Sports Academy. He recently began training in judo three days a week to prepare for this match.

“They are a good ground school,” Hoelzle said of his opponent. “As far as I see, Aaron is a standup guy. I’m excited to be back in there. I want to keep the fight standing. From what I have seen, I know I can take the fight to the mat if I want to. If he gets the better of me in standup, I will take it to the ground. Most my fights go to the ground and I never get to stand up and attempt to knock someone out.

“I picked up Judo the last four months with Dennis Johnson,” he continued. “Dennis is a fourth degree black belt in judo. It compliments my wrestling well. It’s something I have been picking up real easy with no background. There has been some times where I have tried a judo throw and that’s when I wish I knew judo because I end up on my back. I am much more confident now. I am trying to be well-rounded Mixed Martial Artist.”

Though mixed martial arts is banned in New York, there is a loophole in the rules, and that is why the event is able to take place in Rochester. As long as the New York State Athletic Commission is not the governing body, fighters are not being paid and there is a legitimate commission that is watching over the event, it is legal, according to Hoelzle. No elbows and no knees to the head are allowed.

If Hoelzle puts on a performance to his liking, he plans on making this his last amateur fight and will go pro.

“I am anxious,” he said. “It’s something I love doing and want to do for a long time. I am looking to make some money at it. I just want to get in there. I don’t want to get it over with, but I want to get it started. I am ready to get into a serious 10-week camp and get ready for the pros.”

Hoelzle is just ready to get in the octagon and shake off the rust and hope his knee is ready for the match.

“I think that will go away once the fists start flying,” he said about the fear of his knee. “I worry about it a lot in training. When we spar, not so much. I can’t say I don’t think about it. It’s in my head. I am mentally strong when I get into the cage. I know what has to be done.”