by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The message seemed clear from UFC president Dana White towards Thiago Alves following UFC 117. Make weight or go to a higher weight class.

Knowing that something had to change after missing weight again, Alves made a decision just 2 days following his loss to Jon Fitch, as he hired strength, conditioning, and nutrition guru Mike Dolce and the Dolce Diet (www.TheDolceDiet.com) to handle his weight cutting and diet needs going forward.

Dolce, who has worked with several UFC fighters including Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, and Michael “The Count” Bisping, met with Alves’ manager a few months back, but after seeing Alves miss the 171lb limit yet again, he knew it was time to step in.

“I have actually known Malki Kawa, Thiago’s manager, I met him last year at one of the Strikeforce events and we hit it off real well, and he asked me if I’d be willing to work with some of his guys. He’s got a pretty good stable of some of the top guys, so we stayed in touch for the last 6, 8 months or so, nothing really materialized being busy and what not, and then with this issue that Thiago just had I actually sent Malki a text message saying ‘now’s the time, let’s get in touch,” Dolce told MMAWeekly in an exclusive interview Monday night.

“He set up a conference call, they landed back today Florida, picked up the phone, did a conference call, and we hashed it out, we’re done. We’re already signed, sealed and delivered.”

Talking to Alves over the phone, Dolce has already started to find out problems the Brazilian has had with making weight, and will work closely with the American Top Team fighter over the next few weeks to tailor the perfect plan to get him in tip-top condition, while making his weight cut easier than it’s ever been before.

Dolce says Alves may even get a little bigger.

“Here’s the thing, Thiago only walks around at 200lbs. Some people say ‘wow, 200lbs, that’s huge for a welterweight’ but not in my mind,” Dolce commented. “I deal with some of the biggest guys in their divisions, myself included. 30lbs is easy, I’ve had guys cut over 30lbs in a single week and perform at an elite level come fight night. That’s really the most important thing.

“I think Thiago’s a perfect sized welterweight, we might actually pack a little more muscle onto his frame and really make him look like a freak in there.”

Working with Chael Sonnen over his last few fights, Dolce says the Oregon born middleweight routinely walks around at nearly 230lbs before a fight, and makes weight without any issues. As a matter of fact, Dolce’s athletes have never missed weight before, and he plans on keeping that record perfect the next time Alves weighs in as well.

Seeing the issues that Alves has is nothing new to the former IFL fighter. Dolce has watched many highly trained athletes competing in the UFC falter from a bad weight cut, and it costs them on fight night.

“They don’t quite understand the fact that they have to weigh-in, but then they have to produce the best performance of their life in the cage just 24 hours later,” said Dolce. “Guys are missing that component, and they’re only focused on the scale. That’s the worst way to go into these fights.”

To work with Alves excites Dolce, and he says the real excitement will begin when the Brazilian gets ready to step into the cage with his next opponent. That’s not an enviable position for any welterweight.

“For him to go through a training camp, to not worry about his weight, and to feel phenomenal the entire time, fight week, day before weigh-ins, getting on the scale, have a big smile knowing he’s on weight, and it’s easy, and then to re-hydrate and hop back in that cage and literally destroy somebody,” Dolce commented. “I’m excited to see Thiago go through the process, and for the first time in his career feel good in doing so.”

Dolce and Alves are set to begin work immediately, and the results will show when the American Top Team fighter gets the call from the UFC to step back in the cage again.