"Pittbull" ready to pounce
Story by Andreas Hale
Thiago Alves is like a caged animal ready to pounce on his prey. Unfortunately, “The Pitbull” has been outside of the cage watching due to a number of injuries that have kept him away from the action that he desires. But on August 7th at UFC 117, Thiago Alves will unleash his pent up frustration upon the man he has sought revenge on since his 2006 loss – Jon Fitch.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” Alves says to FightNews when asked how it will feel to enter the cage for the first time since his UFC 100 loss to Georges St. Pierre. “I have this thing built up inside of me where I want to get this over. I feel like my life has no meaning right now and I want to get in that Octagon. I’m really happy that it is finally about to happen with no issues holding me back. I’m ready to go. I guess everything happens for a reason.”
But the things that have happened to the American Top Team fighter have been downright frustrating. Originally scheduled for UFC 107 in Memphis last December, Alves suffered a knee injury which forced him out of the bout. The fight was scheduled again for UFC 111 in New Jersey, but he had to be removed from the card because a CAT scan revealed an arteriovenous malformation in his brain which required surgery.
“It was really discouraging because there’s really nothing you can do about it. You have to wait and sit. All this bullshit has truly made me stronger,” the muay thai specialist exhales. While sidelined, he watched as Fitch dominated Mike Pierce and Ben Saunders, who fought in Alves place. The knee injury Alves could deal with. It was the brain surgery that had his family scared for his life.
“My family couldn’t believe it at first,” Alves recalls when he had to break the news. “My mom got really, really scared when she heard about the brain procedure. When you hear the word ‘brain’ you know it’s serious. She called me crying. But there was nothing she could do.”
Everyone was concerned whether or not Alves would see action inside of the Octagon again. Rather than mope around frustrated, the jiujitsu purple belt decided to let his fans in on his surgery and released a series of YouTube videos to show everyone what he went through. It not only made Alves more personable to his fans, but it also gave him a new outlook on life in and out of the cage.
“With the fans, I’m really happy with everything. They have been really supportive,” he says. “ It was pretty cool to know that there are a lot of people who care about you. That was the good side about the whole thing. Now that it is all over, it feels like it never happened before and I’m looking forward to get back in there and kick some ass.”
The first ass on Alves list to kick is that of Fitch. An upkick by Fitch in the 2nd round of their 2006 fight ended Alves’ night. After the loss, Alves went back to the drawing board and reeled off seven consecutive victories – including dominant wins over Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes – before losing a hard fought 5 round title bout against Georges St. Pierre. “The Pitbull” knows that both he and Fitch have progressed since their meeting four years ago, but Alves feels that he has made great strides which will culminate in a victory on August 7th in Oakland, CA.
“I think I’m a completely different fighter than I was before,” he explains. “I was less experienced – and so was he – but I was dealing with the cutting weight problem. It was hard for me to deal with before. Now I have my weight down and I know what it takes to be on the top of the welterweight division.”
Without the weight battle, Alves has been able to focus on strategy and technique.
“I’ve improved my standup, my wrestling and my jiujitsu. I just became a professional martial artist and a complete athlete. That’s what I think is the huge difference. I know that he’s improved a lot but I think my improvement was ten times better. I guess we’ll have to find out. I’m not worried. I know he’s a tough guy and everything but I know I’m going to knock him out.”
There is concern that his inactivity could haunt him. The topic of cage rust is brought up and Alves discusses how it affects fighters differently. He mentions how Quinton “Rampage” Jackson looked sluggish against Rashad Evans after taking a year off. But he also mentions how well Brock Lesnar looked when coming from behind to choke out Shane Carwin after being out for a year.
“When you’ve been out for a year, it’s hard,” he explains. “You have to remind yourself how it is and there’s nothing you can do about those feelings. As long as you accept that it is normal, you can deal with it better. Once they close the cage, it’s all about the training and it’s up to you to make it happen.”
Leave it up to Alves, his scheduled three round fight against Fitch won’t make it to the final bell. Although Fitch hasn’t been finished since his 4th professional fight against Wilson Gouveia back in 2002, Alves thinks he can take the AKA fighter out.
“I’m going to try to finish the fight. Once I get in that cage, that’s all I have on my mind,” Alves says. “I don’t look to score points or anything like that. I just have to push the pace and fight my fight. I know once I do that, it’s really hard to handle my rhythm. I’m going to bring the old ‘Pitbull.’”
He stops short of promising a KO victory but does promise something else.
“I guarantee that it’s not going to be a boring fight.”
With the understanding that even if he gets past Fitch that he won’t be able to avenge his loss to GSP due to St. Pierre’s end of the year clash with Fitch’s AKA teammate Josh Koscheck, Alves says that he doesn’t want to wait and is willing to remain active and keep winning fights until the welterweight title clash happens.
“I’ll fight anybody. I’ve been out for so long, I just want to fight,” Alves says excitedly. Clearly out for blood, “The Pitbull” says that there is a certain newcomer that he would like to sink his teeth into. “After Fitch, I know that I will be the #1 contender for the title but I heard Jake Shields is coming to the welterweight division and I think that would be a great fight for me or Fitch – well me because I know I’m going to beat Fitch. I think Jake Shields will be a great fight. I want to fight and be active. I don’t want to sit around and wait, I’ve been out for too long and I want to fight as much as I can.”
Come August 7th, it is going to be scary for anyone standing in the way of a bloodthirsty “Pitbull.”