Thiago Alves’ plans to compete as a lightweight have ended.
An undersized welterweight in stature, Alves decided to move down a weight class in 2016 after suffering a TKO loss to Carlos Condit at 170lbs. However, “Pitbull”—a one-time UFC welterweight title contender who took then-champion Georges St-Pierre to a decision at UFC 100—failed to make the 155lbs limit for his fight against Jim Miller under the famous lights of Madison Square Garden at UFC 205 in November, the UFC’s first ever show in New York City.
In addition to weighing in at 162lbs for the Miller fight, Alves ultimately lost the fight in a unanimous decision which prompted the Brazilian to scrap his plans at reinvigorating his stagnating career as a lightweight. Instead, he will be returning to welterweight in a fight against Canada’s Patrick Cote—signalling an end to Alves’ experiment before it had ever truly begun.
"It's not worth it," Alves told MMA Fighting. "I'll make the same money to cut 15 pounds more. But I don’t regret it because it was something I thought I could do. I tried, honestly, but I couldn’t. At least I tried with everything I had. The good side of it is that now I’m lighter than I was before, and I have less weight to cut. I can make 170 pounds in a week now.
"The UFC 205 experience changed me a lot. I fixed everything I had to fix, removed some people that were pulling me back, and I have nothing to worry about now. My focus is to be the best now. I’m thrilled to be a father now, having fun every day, and getting ready for this fight."
Alves was alluding to former nutritionist and purveyor of “bro science,” Mike Dolce, who reportedly had issues with American Top Team. Though, it is worth noting Dolce was not the man in charge with handling Alves’ doomed weight cut ahead of UFC 205.
Pitbull’s lightweight hopes always appeared a tad ambitious given his previous inability to weigh in at the 170lbs limit of the weight class he is now returning to. In the space of four fights from 2008 to 2010, Alves failed to make the welterweight limit on two occasions—against UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes at UFC 85 and then again ahead of his fight against Jon Fitch at UFC 117. The latter instance drew the ire of UFC president Dana White. “You’ve got to make weight. Otherwise we’ve got to move you up to middleweight,” White said at the time in a media scrum.
Just 33-years-old and with plenty of miles on the clock, Alves was hoping for a new lease of life as a lightweight back in November. You would be forgiven for thinking he is returning to welterweight with his tail between his legs, but seems to be taking everything in his stride. "I don’t regret anything because now I’m on this mental and emotional state," Alves said. "I’m excited to compete. I’m a veteran, but I feel like a kid who just entered the UFC now.
"I'm thrilled, and I don’t worry about what’s in the past. The last fight doesn’t count that much because a lot of shit happened that week and I couldn't fight. I fought with 20 percent of my capacity, completely dehydrated. And my last fight at 170 was against [Carlos] Condit, a title eliminator bout. I won the first round and got caught in the second. That can happen to anyone.”
In a strange twist, Alves appears to have earned a new sense of purpose in his MMA career as a result of his failed trip down a weight class. Now, with his home established at 170lbs and brimming with motivation, Alves will be hoping to make another run at the title in a dilapidated welterweight division.
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