Sam Alvey and McKey Sullivan at Bellator 45

If you ever meet Sam Alvey, you’ll soon understand why he’s nicknamed “Smile ‘N” Sam.

As infectious a smile as there is in the sport, Alvey just looks like the happiest guy in the world to be doing what he’s doing. A love of mixed martial arts has led the Wisconsin native to the cage in Bellator where he earned a spot in the next season’s middleweight tournament.

To get there, Alvey had to go through a grimacing Karl Amoussou, and despite a nasty cut opened on his head in the first round, Alvey battled back to get the win by split decision.

Throughout the whole pre-fight process, weigh-ins, and even when he was getting stitched up after the fight, Alvey had a great support system around him.

Beyond his coaches and trainers that helped him get to Bellator, Alvey also points to his biggest fan and supporter, his fiancée McKey Sullivan.

If that name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. McKey Sullivan was the 11th cycle winner of the popular CW reality series “America’s Next Top Model,” but before she was running alongside Tyra Banks, she was standing by her then boyfriend Sam Alvey.

Now that the show is over, Sullivan – who is attending college with a double major focusing on law and biochemistry – helps her now fiancée Alvey with everything you can imagine when it comes to fight preparation.

“She is my corner; she always does my cornering,” Alvey told “She will always be in my corner.”

When his fiancée is in his corner, Alvey says it’s not simply as a supporter. He readily admits that she probably follows the sport more closely than he does, and when it comes down to video study to get ready for the fights, she’s the one breaking down film like a coach getting ready for the big game.

“She really coaches me there, too. I wouldn’t have the record I do without her,” Alvey admits. “She does all the research into my opponents. She and I and all of my coaches will put together a game plan, and she keeps me on task when I’m in the cage.

“She’s not just there because she’s my fiancée, but she’s there because she’s a legitimate part of my team.”

Outside the cage, as Alvey is getting ready for his fights, Sullivan helps him with the little things there too. Coming from the reality show world, she’s seen the highs and lows of getting in the public spotlight and she’s happy to impart some of her wisdom as her fiancé gets ready for the Bellator middleweight tournament.

“It is a little bit of a reverse role. She’s always been supportive of my fighting and everything I’ve done. Now that it’s on camera she can be supportive and be helpful in that regard,” said Alvey.

“She can tell me the little tricks of the trade, what the cameramen like to see and what the producers like to hear, she can tell me how to rework the questions the way you’re supposed to. Just little things here and there that help me get on camera a little more often, and help the fans to see who I really am.”

Alvey is hopeful to continue his exposure when he enters the Bellator middleweight tournament set to kick off this fall. He’s ready to face the best of the best, and then eventually earn a shot at Bellator champion Hector Lombard.

“I’m so excited for it and that I’ve got time to prepare for it too is just another bonus. This first fight went well, but in another four or five months I’ll be twice as good as I was this last (fight),” Alvey stated.

“I think they’re some of the best in the world. It is that way because Bellator doesn’t just give you the spot, you’ve got to fight to get into the tournament. Because of the way Bellator does that, whoever I draw in the first round is going to be a tough fight, just like the second round and the third round will be.”

No doubt Sullivan will start breaking down fight footage on all of Alvey’s potential opponents as he gets ready for the tournament later this year.

Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for
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