Alves, Kampmann square off in Friday main event in Sydney
It is often said a motivated fighter is a dangerous fighter, and UFC veteran Thiago Alves has never felt better or more confident than he does right now.
While the Brazilian is only 28 years old, he is a veteran of the sport and long considered one of the top fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division. But Alves’ career has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. His success inside the cage has taken him to title opportunities, while the trials and tribulations he’s faced internally have taken him to the breaking point.
Alves’ talent has never come into question, but his struggles with making weight and the drain it created on fight night put all of his potential in jeopardy. That all changed when Alves sought the guidance of nutrition and fitness expert Mike Dolce, and the results of their work have created a career rebirth for “The Pitbull.”
Already considered one of the most feared and powerful strikers in the sport, a leaner and faster physique only amplifies the potential problems he can create for his opponents. Alves plans on putting everything on display when he squares off against Martin Kampmann in the main event of UFC on FX 2 on Friday in Sydney, Australia.
“Kampmann is one of the toughest guys out there, and he does everything well,” Alves told HeavyMMA. “He’s a great striker with strong wrestling and a good ground game. I’m expecting him to be better than he’s ever been. I don’t think he’s going to commit the same mistakes he’s made in past fights, but I am going to force him to make new ones.
“I have to prepare myself for everything and make sure I’m at my best. I know when I’m at my best there is nobody who can beat me. That’s what we’ve been working hard toward – making sure I’m coming in at the best of my abilities, and that is what is going to allow me to break Martin Kampmann once we step into the cage. I think it’s a great matchup for both of us and the fans, as well. We are going to put on a great show. I’m definitely prepared and I’m going to finish him.”
There is a saying in mixed martial arts: “The first fight is the scale, the second is in the cage.” And while this certainly applies to the struggles Alves has faced in the past, the issue went beyond the physical. With so much of his preparation focused on breaking his body down, little time was spent getting him ready for the fight. With Dolce at the helm, the doubt and anxiety that used to riddle his mind are gone, replaced by happiness and a rejuvenated passion to fight.
“One of the biggest aspects in my career right now is that I’m happy,” Alves said. “Fight week is the one I have dreaded the most in the past. It used to be so tough it would make me think about finding another career. Fighting is something that I love – something I’ve done my entire life and left my family in Brazil to do. It was something I never had to do. My family (was) never wealthy or rich, but we would’ve been OK had I decided not to choose this career. But this is something I really want in my heart because I want to become the champion – and I will accomplish that.
“Those times in the past before weigh-ins were very revealing to me. It would make me want to quit and not pursue what I love to do. Having the ability to actually enjoy myself, have a good meal and knowing the weight is coming off like it should, it’s a blessing.
“The preparation for this fight has been a lot more intense than it has in the past. It has also been a lot more directed in the right aspects. The team I have now with Mike Dolce and my new coaching staff, every time we work together it gets better and better. This has been the easiest weight cut of my career. Everybody is in tune with one another and the further it goes, the harder it gets for me as an athlete because I push myself. In a sense, it gets harder and much better for me – but at the same time, much much worse for my opponent.”
In light of the current divisional picture, the winner of the bout between Alves and Kampmann will keep his place amongst the contenders, but the loser will most likely be reshuffled to the back of the line. The UFC welterweight title is still a goal Alves plans on achieving, but he knows he has a very game opponent in Kampmann standing in his way. Alves is ready to put all the chips on the table when the cage door closes.
“I’m coming out with a brand new body, much more explosive and very confident for this fight,” Alves said. “There is no way this fight is going to a decision. Just like I’m prepared, I know Kampmann is ready. We are going out there to put it all on the line and I’m going to break him. Fans are going to see a great fight and I hope they enjoy the show.”