Alton Cunningham Wants to Be the ‘Most Violent Light Heavyweight In the World’
Alton “The Bo Man” Cunningham (6-1) is slated to fight at LFA 56 against Erick Murray on December 7, 2018. The Wisconsin native will be moving to light heavyweight for the contest and will look to introduce himself to the division with a bang.
Cunningham spoke with MMA Today about his initial foray into combat sports, moving up a weight division, using marijuana, and more.
From wanting to wrestle professionally to cagefighting
Like many young sports fans, Cunningham closely followed professional wrestling. Cunningham would aptly watch events, and the performances he saw led to a long-term goal: to be a professional wrestler.
“I got into fighting, actually I would say, from my love of professional wrestling,” Cunningham told MMA Today. “Growing up, it was always a dream of mine to be a professional wrestler,”
But, a certain ‘Beast Incarnate’ turned Cunningham onto the professional fighting scene.
“I watched Brock Lesnar transition over to MMA from professional wrestling, then that got my attention to pay more attention to the sport of mixed martial arts.”
While Lesnar exposed Cunningham to MMA, it was one of the greatest fighters of all time that inspired him to try and fight professionally.
“I would say that it was actually me watching Fedor Emelianenko that inspired me to come into the sport of mixed martial arts. Brock Lesnar got my attention, but Fedor…once I watched Fedor’s highlights, I was like, ‘I’m doing this,’ I just got hooked, then I started training right after high school, and here I am today. My passion and my love for the sport has only grown stronger since that day.”
Moving on up
For the better part of Cunningham’s professional career, he has competed as a middleweight. Still, Cunningham has moved up to light heavyweight for the Murray fight.
Cunningham said that the move is likely to benefit his career, as he deems light heavyweight a much shallower division. One of the pleasant side effects of moving up, he says, is the food.
“I’ve got a nasty candy addiction. It’s disgusting, bro. Sour candy, sour patch kids, gummy sour candies, stuff like that. If I’m cheating, it’s candy.”
Still, people can rest assured that Cunningham continues to take his diet seriously.
“The funny thing is, my diet is probably cleaner.”
Unabashed marijuana usage
Marijuana is a drug that carries a significant stigma and is associated with many negative stereotypes. Yet, Cunningham believes, like many others, that the benefits of marijuana should be the focal point when discussing it.
Cunningham isn’t worried about any kind of backlash, either.
“I‘m open to talking about it just because people just don’t want to talk about it. You know what I mean? That’s what makes the Diaz brothers so awesome. They don’t give a (expletive) about it. Like it’s no big deal. I don’t know why it’s so frowned upon for certain people. Even people that do it, they’re like, ‘why did you say that?’ You know, it’s cleaner than alcohol.”
Cunningham sees similar patterns with a lot of MMA fighters, including Elias Theodorou, a UFC middleweight and noted advocate for the use of medicinal marijuana.
“I’m sure with Elias [Theodorou], and a lot of other fighters: they’re smoking right after their training sessions, you know what I mean? Just for the recovery benefits, first off. Definitely at night, just to recover your body, depending on which strain you get. Whether it’s sativa or indica, or whether you’re just messing around with the ‘Moon Rocks,'” he says with a laugh.
Cunningham is also an avid user of CBD products, which contact many of the medicinal properties of marijuana without the psychoactive component, THC. At the time of this interview, Cunningham had actually just brewed a cup of CBD-infused tea.
Visualizing ‘the onslaught’
Ahead of their December 7 matchup, Cunningham’s focus is entirely on Erick Murray. He says that Murray’s gameplan is the least of his concern.
“No offense to him, but I’m really focused on what I’m going to do. If I do-,” Cunningham stops himself, “when I do, what I plan on doing, there’s no way he makes it out of the first round.”
Cunningham sees himself taking the fight by first-round knockout.
“He’s not going to be able to handle the onslaught. He’s not going to be able to handle the pressure that I’m gonna put on him; the bombs that I’m going to be throwing his way. I just feel like he’s going to crumble under the pressure and he’s going to leave himself open for a big shot.”
Though he’s not taking Murray lightly, Cunningham sees this matchup as more than just another fight.
“This is a big fight: to come up to 205 [pounds] and see where I’m at right now at that weight class. Being realistic, I’m gonna run through this dude and be looking forward to setting myself up for a prime 2019 as I establish myself as the most violent light heavyweight in the world.”
Alton Cunningham competes at LFA 56 on Friday, December 7. He’ll look to make some noise in the light heavyweight division with a win over Erick Murray.