It’s been more than a year since fans saw Roufusport product Alan Belcher in the Octagon – sixteen months to be exact. However, when the 27-year old takes to the cage tonight in New Orleans it will mark a much more significant return to action than simply one related to the amount of time he’d been gone.

Shortly after his UFC 113 win over Patrick Cote, Belcher suffered a detached retina while training for a fight with Demian Maia. The injury ultimately resulted in two surgeries and a prognosis involving the possible end of his MMA career.

“I thought I wasn’t gonna fight again, and we weren’t even talking about it with the doctor. I was just trying to get my sight back,” Belcher revealed in an interview with the UFC. “After a while, I started thinking about it a little bit and there definitely was a chance that I wasn’t gonna fight again. Even if you do get good enough to get back in there, do you want to risk doing that again? There are so many different variables, and it was a tough time for me.”

After a lengthy recovery process and a plethora of self-doubt, Belcher originally questioned whether or not he even wanted to fight again before his loved ones stepped in to give him support.

“I had to actually think ‘Do I want to continue to do this? Is it worth it?’ It was one of those times in your life that things get flipped upside down and inside out, and you have to work through it and figure out what’s best. So after a lot of thinking and praying and talking to my wife and my family, my dad and my coaches and friends, we decided that I’m gonna finish what I started, give it my all, take it one fight at a time and go from there.”

However, that’s not to say he wasn’t a bit apprehensive at first when he returned to training.

“The first couple sparring sessions were pretty nerve-wracking,” Belcher admitted. “I was really nervous about reinjuring it, and real cautious about babying (my eye) real bad. I made sure I wore a facemask and that kinda stuff, and it seemed like everything was going towards my eye. But I worked through it. It took a couple weeks, I got that going, and now I don’t notice it at all. I see fine, and I don’t miss anything.”

That sparring, as well as his BJJ, will be put to the test this evening against Jason MacDonald on the main card of UFN 25. Fans can tune in to the event starting at 9:00 PM EST and also watching the streaming prelims on Facebook at 5:30 PM EST.