Coming into his first fight in 2012, Alves is excited to see what the year will bring. After a rough couple of years, going 2-2 in 2010-2011, Alves is ready to make a return to title contention in the welterweight division.
That begins this Saturday with Martin Kampmann in Sydney, Australia. For Alves, a strong striker, he is ecstatic about the matchup with Kampmann, who is also a top striker. Headlining an event in Australia? Well that’s even better.
“Martin and I, I just know we are going to put on a great show,” Alves said to MMAFrenzy.com “He is a top striker who is well-rounded and is a pretty tough guy. But for me, I know I am fully prepared. I’m in the best shape of my life and I have been working with a dream team of coaches. I’m excited to go there and show all of the hard work I have put in with them. I am going to go in there and be relentless and break him over fifteen minutes.”
That seemed to be the same strategy that he wanted to employ in his last bout, a win over Papy Abedi at UFC 138 last November. For Alves, the win could not have come at a better time. Coming off of a disappointing loss to Rick Story earlier in the year, Alves was put in a difficult situation. The former title contender was 1-2 in his last two fights, and was having trouble figuring out what was wrong.
But then the infamous Mike Dolce came into the picture. Alves brought Dolce on full-time to help figure out the issues he was having.
“Mike was a life changer,” Alves explained of the impact Dolce has had. “He saved my career. Since he took over, so much has changed. Before he was in the picture, I was competing at maybe 50-60% of my capabilities. After my fight with Jon Fitch in 2010, I had to change my image. But even after my fight with Rick Story, something was missing. I told Mike that I wanted him to run my strength and conditioning program, and the improvements were obvious in my fight against Abedi.”
Before Dolce was working full-time with him, Alves faced off against up-and-coming welterweight Rick Story at UFC 130 in May. Going into the fight, Alves was as confident as ever. But that quickly turned to false confidence, as Alves made one of the biggest mistakes any fighter can make.
“I overlooked Rick Story,” Alves said. “I thought it was going to be easy and that I was going to run right through him. While I still think I won that fight, I know I gave that fight away. I thought that as soon as I threw a punch, he was going to go down. I was far too comfortable against him, and that was something I should not have done. But that is a mistake I will never let happen again, and I know it made me better.”
That knowledge was put to the test against his next opponent, Papy Abedi. The Swedish Judo expert was making his UFC debut, and Alves knew he could not make the same mistake in overlooking an opponent. Alves passed that test, defeating Abedi via first round submission, the first submission win of his career.
“That fight felt like I was releasing two years of aggression,” Alves said of the win over Abedi. “It usually takes two years to get used to new coaches, along with everything else I went through, like my brain procedures. I did not even know it was my first submission victory until Joe Rogan pointed it out. But every time I go to England, I have great results. “
Now looking back at 2011, Alves is thankful for what he had to go through. While no fighter wants a loss to go on his or her record, often times, improvements are most significant after dealing with them.
“My 2011 was a very long experience,” Alves said. “It started off very crappy because of my very disappointing loss to Story. But it made me better, and you could see that in my performance against Adebi. He was probably the biggest guy I’ve ever fought at 170, and I took him out.”
Now in 2012, Alves is ready to declare this the year that he makes his return to the top of the division.
“2012 is going to be my year,” said Alves. “2012 will be a lot like 2008 for me. I was one of the fighters of the year and it was the best year of my career. I had three great fights and three great wins, and that is how I see 2012. I’m very confident and I’ve learned in this game that anything can happen.”
“I’ve learned that if you have a good heart and good work ethic, great things will happen. If you do the right things and stay positive, you can’t lose. 2012 is going to be my year, and I am going to make a statement this year. And in 2013, I will have the belt.”