Thiago Alves has never been in the business of calling other fighters out.
Sure, he’s asked for a title shot like any top ranked welterweight, but the Brazilian doesn’t believe in calling out anybody for a fight, he just fights the best in the world and whoever the UFC puts in the cage with him.
So it was a little surprising to Alves when he heard that Rick Story was calling him out for a fight. Sure, Story has gone 5-1 in the UFC, and is on the rise in the welterweight division, so in many ways Alves took the statement as a compliment.
In other ways, however, it fired Alves up, and that’s a flame that Story might not like too much.
“That’s not my style, I don’t call anybody out. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to fight the best, but I feel flattered in a way that I know he wants to become the champion one day. He wants to fight the best competition out there,” Alves told MMAWeekly Radio.
“But in the same way there’s a little bitter taste in my mouth. Like is this kid for real? He wants to fight me, calling me out like that? Be careful what you wish for. I’m training like a maniac, I’m training like I’ve never trained before. He’s going to get the best Thiago Alves ever, so I hope he’s training his ass off.”
Alves has hit new levels since working with nutrition coach Mike Dolce. After failing to make weight for his 2010 fight against Jon Fitch, Alves knew he had to make a major change. He did that by adding the nutritional guru to his camp prior to his last fight against John Howard.
What resulted was a more in shape, fully fueled Thiago Alves that went on to dominate Howard for three rounds, earning a lopsided decision win. Now two camps in with Dolce, who also lives with Alves when it gets this close to the fight, the Brazilian is ready for version 2.0 to be unleashed on Saturday night.
“I’m better with more upgrades than before, but with the experience that I have and everything I’ve learned throughout this process throughout my career, I’m a new Thiago right now. I truly feel like I’m just getting started again. I’m just 27 years old. I’ve got I’d say at least eight years ahead of me, so I’m very, very excited. I feel like a little kid again,” Alves said.
The training for the fight has been great, but not without a few bumps in the road. Just as Alves was getting in the groove to begin his workouts for Story, a major change took place at his home camp, American Top Team.
Some of Alves’ longtime training partners left the gym and started their own team just up the road in Florida. Jorge Santiago, who also fights at UFC 130, Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante, Danillo Villefort, and Yuri Villefort, all left the gym amidst disagreements with the leadership at the camp.
Alves admits that not having those guys around was tough, and it will always be tough, but luckily American Top Team picked up the pieces and provided him with the weapons he needed to get ready for Story.
“Those guys are like my brothers and I’m used to seeing them every day. Especially Jorge Santiago and JZ, we’re here since the foundation of American Top Team. We’re not just friends inside of the gym, but outside of the gym we used to hang out all the time. Then Danillo and Yuri joined in too, we became a big family. We left our families in Brazil and we gained a new family here, where we had each other,” Alves said.
“I guess what they did it was better for them. I’m not happy, I don’t agree with their decision, but I respect their decision. Whatever you’ve got to do to be more comfortable, to have peace of mind, I’m with you. But I’m not happy I don’t have my brothers inside of my house anymore.”
The management at American Top Team reassured Alves that he would not miss a step in his training camp, and brought in several training partners.
“You couldn’t ask for better training partners, but that’s the great thing about American Top Team, my manager, Mr. Dan Lambert, he’s a great guy, he’s the Godfather. I owe everything that I accomplished in this sport, I owe to him, and when the guys decided to leave he called me and was like, ‘Thiago I just want to let you know that nothing’s going to miss, you’re not going to miss anything,” Alves stated.
“This truly is the best training camp I ever had. They’re bringing in tough guys, and guys that have actually beat Rick Story before. I’m training with Nathan Coy, who’s a Strikeforce fighter, amazing guy, Olympic level wrestler, and now he’s a part of American Top Team. I’m training with Jason High. Everybody knows Jason High, very, very tough southpaw. I truly believe I’ve been training with guys that are much better than Rick Story.”
Put everything together and Alves believes that Story is in for a rude awakening when they meet in the Octagon on Saturday night.
“He says he wants to stand up with me. Let’s see if he can back up the talk,” Alves said.
“It’s going to be a very early night for him.”