Houston Alexander was never one to go looking for trouble.
The UFC and Bellator veteran, who now calls BKFC home, has been fighting for most of his adult life. But he learned a very valuable lesson nearly 20 years ago, and that was that street fights are far more dangerous than anything he’ll ever do in a cage or ring.
Alexander, who on Saturday headlines BKFC 33 against Joey Beltran, said his last fight outside of his professional career, in 2004, forever changed his life.
““I was in a bar, there was guys in there who were up to no good,” Alexander told MMA Fighting. “A friend of mine was having a party at this event, and I just happened to go there and support my friend, but this place had the best burgers ever. So I’m ordering a burger at this place where my friend just happened to be having an event at; I was good with that.
“When the event started and I was just sitting there waiting for my burger, this guy went up to this girl that we knew and he slapped her. He slapped her because she wouldn’t dance with him.”
As soon as he saw the woman get hit, Alexander said and his friends sprang into action to intervene.
“We went over like, ‘Hey, you can’t do this, you’ve got to go.’ So this guy tells me to f*** off,” Alexander recounts. “I was like what? We said we don’t want no problems, you hit the girl, you’ve got to go. He tells me to f*** off again. It was like the Will Smith movie Hancock. It was a Hancock moment. I said, ‘Say f*** you one more time,’ and before the f*** came out of his mouth, I had hit him so hard.
“After that I hit him with a series of knees. I kept kneeing this guy for maybe two minutes straight. His friends are trying to pull us apart, my friends are trying to pull us apart as we go out the door.”
As the melee moved outside, Alexander was still fighting with the patron when the situation shifted from a typical bar fight into a life-or-death situation.
“Here’s the cherry on top — when they were rushing us out the door, somebody handed this guy a gun,” Alexander revealed. “Me not seeing this, this guy put the gun up to my head and fired the gun.”
Alexander said he should have been dead at that moment.
Thankfully, just before the gun was fired, a bouncer from inside the establishment managed to swipe at the assailant’s arm to dislodge the weapon enough so that it didn’t actually fire at Alexander’s head.
“I didn’t see the gun,” Alexander said. “Somebody must have handed it to him. He redirected the gun, and the shot hit me in my leg. I didn’t realize I was shot until I jumped over a counter and ran out the back door. When I ran out the back door, I’m walking and I’m looking and I’m seeing blood go down my jeans. At first, I’m like, ‘Oh man, this guy just messed up my jeans!’
“Next thing I know, I’m in the parking lot, [and] there were cops sitting there, because this guy was still shooting. He was blinded by the knees, because I kneed him in the head a thousand times, [and] he was still shooting. He shot a couple of people and myself, and the cops drew down on me like I did something. But the guy was in there shooting.”
According to Alexander, he was treated at a local hospital for the gunshot wound; the bullet went straight through his thigh. The resulting scar serves as a daily reminder to never again put himself into those situations.
“That was the last time I had any kind of unsanctioned bare-knuckle fight,” Alexander said. “After that, I never got into another situation like that. I went to work the next day. I went to the hospital, the bullet went through my leg, they patched it up, and I went to work the next day.
“I’ve still got the hole in my leg. It was right near my [groin] area. That was the last time I got into any remote situation like that without getting paid.”
Alexander didn’t seek retribution against the gunman, even after police contacted him in the aftermath. Because he was a bit of a local celebrity in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., he can’t help but wonder if the assailant realized who he’d shot.
“The detectives showed me his pictures afterward, but I didn’t do anything about it,” Alexander said. “I’m sure something happened to him down the line, because karma’s a b****. I don’t know what happened after that.
“All I know is this, I was working radio back then, and I had my own show. For anyone to know that happened, and to hear me on the radio the next day, that had to be crazy for that person to go, ‘I just shot that guy, and he’s on the radio the next day.’ That’s what happened.”
In his chosen profession, Alexander has engaged in over 30 professional fights. Now on the way to his third fight in bare-knuckle competition, he goes out of his way to avoid confrontations in public.
“The thing is I’ve always been conscious of my surroundings and who I hang out with, but I was just trying to get a burger,” Alexander said. “That’s all it was. From me getting a burger to that transpiring the way it did, I’m just very fortunate to be here nowadays.
“Shout out to my man J.R. for actually saving my life. Every time I see him, I thank him every single time. If it wasn’t for him being in that situation, we wouldn’t be having this interview right now.”