American Top Team welterweight Thiago Alves attempts to get back to winning ways this Saturday when he takes on fellow banger John Howard at UFC 124. Alves in 0-2 in his last two after an unsuccessful title shot and a dropped decision to Jon Fitch.
He also missed weight against Fitch, and so he feels he has a lot to atone for in this next outing. Fighters Only staff writer John Joe O’Regan finds out more.
FO: You are going to fight John Howard on December 11th. Break him down for us.
He’s a tough guy, strong fighter, good stand-up and good wrestling background. I am just gonna beat him up in every aspect of the fight. I am gonna come back strong - I have to come back strong to make a statement. That’s what I am training for, I really want to come back to the winning streak that I had and get back up there again. John Howard is in front of me, I am going to take him out.
FO: That loss to Fitch in the rematch was obviously a disappointment for you; how hard did you take it?
I was very disappointed, not just by the result by the whole situation. There was a 13-month layoff, I had two injuries, a brain procedure… I just had a lot of personal baggage going into that fight. I was very disappointed but I was just glad it was over, that the whole nightmare was over and now I have a chance to start over again. Life’s a rollercoaster, its ups and downs. Its how you come back from the downs [that matters]. I am really happy, really excited and now I have a second chance, I am not going to waste it.
FO: Without wanting to get too personal, I heard through the grapevine that you had some issues in your personal life that were weighing on your mind through that camp…
This fighting game, its very mental. You have to be one hundred per cent on your game, otherwise… There is so much competition out there, especially at this high level. Everybody wants what you want so if you have a little bit of distraction that could cost you a lot. I had a little bit of distraction in my personal life and it cost me but now I did everything that I have to, to get back where I need to be mentally. I am ready, I am prepared. No more stress, no more drama, just ‘kill people’ mentality, that’s all I am thinking right now.
FO: You missed weight for Fitch by half a pound and sacrificed twenty per cent of your purse rather than cut that extra weight; that’s an expensive half-pound!
Well I could have made the weight easily but they gave me the option, ‘Its twenty per cent or you make the weight’ and at that point… we’re professionals, of course we fight for the money but at that point it wasn’t about the money. I knew that [further weight cutting] was just going to take more energy out of my body and I thought ‘you know what, I will just get all the energy that I can and perform really well tomorrow’.
I look back today and I regret it, I should have taken off the extra half a pound but what can I say, it is what it is. Making weight won’t be a problem anymore, I am working with Mike Dolce and doing the Docle diet 24-7. My weight is fine and I feel great like never before. For the first time in my life I am following a diet. I never followed a diet before, I always just cut weight according to what my coaches told me. Now I have a nutritionist I feel great, I can’t wait to see how I perform on December 11th and see how it pays off.
FO: Mike Dolce worked with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson for the Rashad Evans fight and really did a great job getting him in shape; is that what made you choose him?
After the weight issue I had to do something otherwise my career wasn’t going to go very far. I searched a bit and I found out what Dolce did for Rampage and I said that’s the guy for me. I like the way that he works and I am really happy with the results right now. He has been with me 24-7, I never had that in my camp before and I am really excited about it.
FO: How serious was Dana about moving you to middleweight do you think?
Oh he was very, very serious. Because its about your health also, that’s how the UFC look at it. It wasn’t healthy for me, I lost like 20 pounds in three days. That’s not smart, its not healthy but its my fault, I take full responsibility for that. I was the one who was supposed to know how to cut weight. Dana talked to me and said you cannot miss weight again, you are number three in the world, near the top of the division, I cannot have you miss weight. You gotta make weight or I am going to move you up.
Sometimes in life you get comfortable and you take things for granted. You don’t realise what you are doing and so sometimes its good to hit rock bottom so you can build yourself up stronger again.
FO: So for the John Howard fight you are going to hit the scales at 171 on the button (there’s a one-pound excess weight allowance for all fighters)
170! I am going to be 170, I have to be 170 for the next five fights so I can erase this bad image about not making weight. And yeah, knockout. I am gonna go for the knockout like always and try to finish the fight. And I got a lot more tools to add right now, I can finish on the ground. I am excited to get back in there and show my new skills.
Thiago Alves spoke with @johnjoeoregan