by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
To say the fight between Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and Jon Fitch is a long time coming would be a colossal understatement.
The two welterweights were originally set to rematch in December 2009, but an injury to Alves just weeks before the fight forced him to sit the event out. Ready to go again in March 2010 at UFC 111, Alves arrived in New Jersey with high hopes of settling the score with Fitch from their 2006 fight in which the American Kickboxing Academy fighter got the victory by way of TKO.
A pre-fight CAT scan revealed a brain abnormality that forced Alves to once again sit on the sidelines, and watch Fitch fight. Some delays in being cleared following brain surgery pushed Alves vs. Fitch back from their June date at UFC 115, and finally the two top 170-pound contenders are ready to throw down at UFC 117 in Oakland on Aug. 7.
Alves admits that this rematch with Fitch has been hanging over his head like a bad omen for almost the last year, and it’s time to put this fight to rest.
“I think we’ve just got to get over this thing, me and him, so we can move on with our lives and everything,” Alves told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Jon, he’s a really tough guy and everything, but we need to finish this.”
Literally going through four separate training camps for the same fight, Alves has prepared, prepared, and prepared again for fighting Fitch. He’s played this fight in his head many times, but it always results in the same ending.
“He goes down every day, three times a day,” Alves said. “Every time it gets nastier and nastier. Once it’s a knee, the other one’s a high kick, the other one’s a right hand. Every day I picture him going down like that. It’s going to happen.”
The American Top Team welterweight hasn’t been necessarily inactive since his July 2009 fight against Georges St-Pierre, which was the last time he fought. Alves has stayed busy and worked with his team the entire time, but just never actually got the chance to fight.
Fitch on the other hand has been extremely active. The former University of Purdue wrestler remained on both of the cards that he was supposed to face Alves on, and picked up two unanimous decision wins along the way.
“He’s been busy, and I haven’t, but I don’t really care or think about it,” Alves commented about the time off. “I just think that the time I was off made me a better fighter. I’m going to show on Aug. 7 that I’m the best.”
Time off is nothing new to Alves. Prior to his fight with St-Pierre the Brazilian was sidelined for nine months, and had previously served a suspension than put him out for nine months and he came back to action like nothing happened.
The extended training camp has also offered Alves extra time to get his weight in place for this fight, and add some new tricks to his arsenal. With 10 knockouts or TKOs on his record, Alves has already figured out how to land the finishing shot just fine.
The Brazilian admits that he can’t take much of anything away from the 2006 fight he had with Fitch for the rematch; it’s the loss that haunts him. Alves hopes to rectify that situation at UFC 117.
“Once I knock him out it’s going to be like it never happened for real,” Alves said about the first fight with Fitch. “We’re going to be even.”