From October 2006 to October 2008 UFC welterweight Thiago Alves established himself as one of the fiercest, most intimidating fighters in the welterweight division. Over those 24 months he won seven fights in a row finishing five of them. In two of those three wins he defeated former champion Matt Hughes and former number one contender Karo Parisyan with a vicious knee to the face. His last victim was future title challenger Josh Koscheck who he chopped down to size with a combination of knees and leg kicks on his way to winning a unanimous decision.
All of that set him up for a co-main event bout against UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 100 which to this day is the most successful UFC pay-per-view in the history of the company. Alves came to fight and showed a tremendous amount of heart, but at the end of the day he couldn’t stop GSP’s takedowns and lost a five round unanimous decision in front of over 10,000 raucous mixed martial arts fans and a plethora of media the likes that the UFC had never seen before.
Even with the loss Alves should have been on top of the world. He was only 26-years old and just about to reach his physical prime. Unfortunately a knee injury would delay a much anticipated rematch with Jon Fitch who had defeated Alves in 2006. The fight with Fitch was rescheduled three separate times before the two met at UFC 117 in August of 2010. Alves was forced to deal with ring rust and the task of facing the number two welterweight in the world, but that would be the least of his concerns as he came in overweight for the second time in his career. He lost a lackluster decision and UFC President Dana White was threatening to fire Alves if he didn’t make the move to the middleweight division. He was given one more chance to prove he could make 170.
He kept his word and defeated John Howard at UFC 124, but Alves would lose to Rick Story at UFC 130 and was no longer viewed as a contender in the welterweight division. Truly, a far cry from where he was just two years before. Tomorrow night Alves will look to prove his win over little known Papy Abedi at UFC 138 was his first step back towards contention as he faces Martin Kampmann in the main event of UFC on FX 2 in Australia. “Pitbull” is fired up and is very appreciative of the fact that the UFC has given him such a high profile bout. A win here will have people talking about Alves in a positive light again for the first time in two and a half years.
“I feel great, it’s been a great training camp,” said Alves in an exclusive interview with Fightline. “I’ve been training really hard and I have the right guys behind me. I’m so excited about fighting and getting back in there. I am very thankful that the UFC has trusted me with this main event spot and it’s an honor for me to headline this show in Australia. I’ve never been down there, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the fans and the country.”
Kampmann is one of the toughest welterweights the UFC has to offer. He’s been through his share of memorable fights and before he defeated Rick Story at UFC 139 in November he was on the wrong end of two highly controversial losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez. “The Hitman” is adept on the ground, but is more known for his striking and that has led to some exciting back and forth battles. They say styles make match-ups and this one has war written all over it.
“I know his style is predicated on his stand-up, but once he feels my power he’s going to do what most of my other opponents try and do and that’s take me down,” Alves said confidently. “I know it’s going to be an awesome fight for the fans, but it’s not going to be like any of his other fights because I plan on knocking him out or submitting him. He’s a really tough guy who’s beaten some top fighters, but I know I have all the skills to put him away.”
Much has been made of Alves past issues concerning his weight, but he has since joined forces with famed nutritionist Mike Dolce and his “Dolce Diet,” He has also made it a point to walk around at a lighter weight between fights so he’s not cutting an insane amount of weight. He can ill afford another issue concerning his weight and all he needs to do is look at Anthony Johnson to be reminded of what his future could look like if he comes in heavy once again.
“I was 195 a month out before the fight which is 10 pounds less than I used to weigh four weeks before my fight,” explained Alves. “Everything is different now, Dolce has taken over my diet and changed my nutrition and my strength and conditioning program. I’m walking around a lot lighter than I used. His program is a life changer and a lifestyle diet. I hate eating healthy food, but everything he makes tastes great and helps clean your system out.”
“What happened to Johnson was very unfortunate; I don’t understand what happened to him. I don’t know he went from making 170 to not making 185,” Alves continued. “For some reason he couldn’t make the weight and I have no idea why. No one really knows what was going on in his camp and believe me I am not here to judge. I am just grateful that the image of me not making weight doesn’t follow me around anymore.”
Alves fans have been clamoring for the man who was wrecking fellow welterweights during his run to the top of the division. His style is as exciting as anyone else and with all of the new contenders who have surfaced in the UFC there are so many interesting match-ups for Alves to consider. The UFC would benefit greatly if the Alves of old resurfaces and sets his eyes on the welterweight championship.
“I want to stay active this year,” Alves said.”I want to fight on Saturday night, again in July and then I’d like to fight again in December. Hopefully by then I can fight for the belt or at the very least against one of the top contenders. I’ll do whatever the UFC asks me. I’m all about getting paid and winning fights. I don’t care who it is in front of me as long as I can keep busy and work my way towards the top again. I got my head in the right place and I know as long as I’m healthy I can beat any welterweight who steps inside of the cage with me.”