by Ken Pishna (Additional reporting by Steven Marrocco) – MMAWeekly.com
What a difference a day makes.
Less than 24 hours after Jon Fitch revealed via various social networking avenues that his UFC 106 fight with Ricardo Almeida is off and that a “huge opponent” would step in to fill the opening, UFC president Dana White confirmed it.
Following Thursday’s UFC 104 pre-fight press conference, White told MMAWeekly.com that Thiago Alves would be pulled form his UFC 107 bout with Paulo Thiago to step in for the injured Almeida. The bout will, however, take place on the UFC 107 fight card in Memphis, Tenn.
News of the possibility of Alves stepping in to face Fitch was first reported by MMAJunkie.com.
The change infers a much greater impact on the UFC welterweight division than the previously scheduled bouts. Fitch is currently the number two ranked welterweight fighter in the world, while Alves sits at number four. Thiago and Almeida are unranked in the division.
Failing to capture the title from welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre at UFC 87, Fitch (19-3) has since won back-to-back bouts against Akihiro Gono and Paulo Thiago.
Alves (16-6), in his most recent action, was also unsuccessful in wresting the title from St. Pierre. Prior to that, he had racked up seven-straight victories including wins over Fitch teammate Josh Koscheck and UFC legend Matt Hughes.
A UFC lightweight title bout between current champion B.J. Penn and challenger Diego Sanchez heads UFC 107 on Dec. 12. Fitch vs. Alves will don the main card.
(UPDATED / 3:00 p.m. PT, Oct. 22 – The Fitch vs. Alves bout has been corrected to reflect scheduling for the UFC 107 fight card.)