by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
In his return bout from a suspension handed down from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Thiago Alves wasted no time helping fans to remember who he was when he finished veteran fighter Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC Fight Night in September. He hopes to continue the trend when he squares off against Chris Lytle at UFC 78 in Newark, N.J. on Saturday night.
After a long layoff, Alves dominated Hironaka on his way to a second-round TKO in his seventh fight inside the Octagon.
“It felt really good,” he said about his return. “I missed that place so much. I was so excited to fight, to get back in the Octagon again and there was no way I’m losing this fight. Nothing could stop me.”
Originally, Alves was set to face former Pride fighter Ryo Chonan at UFC 78, but a change in another fight caused a change for him. Now the American Top Team member will face the always-tough Chris Lytle in a welterweight showdown.
“You’ve got to be ready for everything,” he said about the change. “They’re both tough guys. The only difference is Lytle is more known in the U.S.A., so I think it’s a better fight for me.”
Training full-time in Florida with ATT, one of the most well known and respected camps in all of mixed martial arts, Alves feels confident in his striking and overall game against Lytle, who has also doubled as a professional boxer during his athletic career.
“Everybody knows that I’m a striker, but I’ve been training with American Top Team for five years, so I can fight anywhere you want,” he stated. “My game plan is always to finish the fight as quickly as possible. I want a knockout or submission.”
Now a veteran in the UFC, at only 24-years-of-age, he feels the best is yet to come for his career.
“It’s like a dream come true,” said Alves about fighting in the UFC. “I’m not finished yet, I’m going to get the belt. When I’m 25, I’m going to be the world champion.”
First things first for him will be the bout with Lytle, who has only been finished once in a professional career spanning more than 40 fights. That lone stoppage was due to a doctor’s recommendation because of a cut, but Alves thinks he can conquer the challenge ahead of him.
“I’m going to knock him out,” said the ATT fighter. “You know, all the respect to Chris Lytle. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I’m just very happy to fight against a big name.”