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Thiago Alves tests free agency waters after UFC release, but won’t fight unless money is right

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Thiago Alves became a free agent after his recent UFC fight with Tim Means in December.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Thiago Alves’ 15-year UFC career ended on Dec. 7 following his 27th bout inside the Octagon. But he still plans to put the gloves on again.

Prior to his loss to Tim Means at UFC on ESPN 7, “Pitbull” told MMA Fighting he would explore free agency and “probably” retire in 2020. One month later, the onetime UFC title challenger said he’s in talks with MMA promotions, but the numbers aren’t high enough to consider another fight.

“There are some negotiations going on, but nothing really excited me yet to keep fighting,” Alves told MMA Fighting. “Thank god I’m financially set, so I don’t need to fight. I want to fight if it makes sense financially. If it doesn’t, I’m cool.

“I’m open to offers, but it has to be the right offer. I’m not fighting for pennies. It has to be more than I was making in the UFC. It has to be something good.”

Alves won’t disclose what he was making in his final UFC deal, but said he wants a “minimum of six figures just to step in again.” The Brazilian veteran is focused on opening his own gym in the United States and joining the police force in Florida.

If he never fights again, Alves hopes to be remembered as one of the best knockout artists of all time in the UFC welterweight division. He tore through the welterweight division before challenging Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title at UFC 100. His overall record stands at 28-15 and includes stoppage victories over the likes of Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan and Chris Lytle.

“I’ve done everything for this sport,” Alves said. “The only thing I haven’t done was win the world title, but I fought the best welterweight of all times, Georges St-Pierre. A 19-year-old kid that left Fortaleza for Miami with 50 dollars in his pocket...I want people to remember me as someone who worked hard and believed in his dream. I did everything my way. I’ve done a lot of sh*t, but I’ve learned with my mistakes and kept moving forward without blaming anyone else but me. I have no complaints.

“I live a great life, I have a beautiful house, a lot of money in the pocket, my family is great, my son is great. I love my work. I’m part of American Top Team, a team I helped create and become what it is today. I’ve inspired many fighters that are competing in MMA today. So, if you’re going to remember me, remember me as someone who believed in his potential. I’m living the dream since the day I left Fortaleza. For me to come back (to fighting), it has to be something that really makes sense, otherwise I’m cool.”

Alves has a message for other fighters who continue to fight their way to the top.

“I want people to understand that fighting is only part of your life, so enjoy life and have fun,” he said. “Believe in yourself, invest in yourself. Keep your heart light when you leave MMA, because this is only one part of your life – you’ll still have a third or a quarter left. I’m excited, man. I have nothing to complain. I just turned 36, and I’m still very young.”