Thiago Alves is back, and he’s feeling great with his new "bionic" body.
The Brazilian welterweight, who hasn’t fought in more than two years due to injuries, is set to return to the UFC on April 10 in Orlando, Fl., against Seth Baczynski. He’s feeling 100 percent, and he’s hungry to compete.
"I got a brand new body," Alves told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s The MMA Hour. "The bionic Pitbull is 100 percent now."
Alves, a former UFC welterweight contender, takes on Baczynski at UFC on FOX 11, and his road to recovery wasn’t easy.
"I had four major surgeries over the last two years," he said. "I had two surgeries in the last semester of 2012 and two in 2013. I’m finally healthy and finally training hard again. I’m ready to take on the welterweight division in 2014."
"Pitbull" had two surgeries in 2012 (right chest and left knee) and another pair of surgeries in 2013 (left chest and left biceps), forcing him to pull out of fights with Yoshihiro Akiyama, Siyar Bahadurzada and Matt Brown.
His long list of injuries is not something new, though. According to the American Top Team talent, he has been dealing with injuries since his fourth UFC fight.
"I tore the ACL and PCL in 2009, before my fight with (Jon) Fitch," he said. "The chest (injury) I believe was an accumulation of 15 years of hard training."
"I think I’m good for a while," he continued with a laugh. "I feel better than before. The two years without training and pushing my body to the limit gave me an extra boost. I’m all healed up. I’m very excited and happy. It’s gonna be hard to go in a training camp without any kind of injury, but, yeah, I’ve been fighting with a PCL (injury) for a long time. But it’s all in the past. I’m finally healthy."
Despite all the recent setbacks, "Pitbull" never stopped believing that he would be good enough to return to the cages.
"I never doubted that I would be back," he said. "I’m pretty young, I just turned 30. The guys at the top are either my age or older, so it was never a concern. My concern was to get back there as soon as possible, but I had to make sure I was 100 percent to be back."
"The toughest guy in the welterweight class is definitely Hendricks," he said, "but I believe I train with the best guys in the weight class, going against the toughest guys in daily basis.
"We wouldn’t fight (each other) if not for the belt. Everyday inside ATT is like a title fight. You got guys getting ready for fight in all organizations. Now we got all these guys, it’s very special."
Alves is happy to know that GSP won’t be inside the Octagon in his route to the gold, and the recent changes in the welterweight division gets him excited.
"It’s just one less guy you won’t have to fight, especially GSP," he said. "He set the bar so high I had to get the right position and technical skills to win. Now that I see he’s not in there anymore I’m very excited to take on all the welterweight division. (The division) is completely open, and I’m excited to get back in there."
Coming off a disappointing loss to Martin Kampmann in his last appearance inside the Octagon, Alves can’t forget the guillotine choke he tapped to with 40 seconds left in the fight.
"I hate losing more than I like winning," he said. "I watched it 100 times. It was a beautiful fight for 14 minutes and 20 seconds."
To get back on track and earn his first win since November of 2011, "Pitbull" prepares to take on Baczynski in Florida.
"I think he’s really a tough guy," the Brazilian said. "Anybody in the welterweight division is tough. There are no easy fights anymore. I’ll make sure I’ll be at my best."