Onetime UFC welterweight title contender Thiago Alves recently inked a three-fight deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships with two goals in mind: win a belt for American Top Team while getting paid good money for it.
“Pitbull” has shared the Octagon with some of MMA’s all-time greats over the past 14 years, but he decided to test free agency after his recent loss to Tim Means this past December. The Brazilian veteran negotiated with a few MMA promotions, but the best offer came from the bare-knuckle company.
“It’s a mix of a new challenge and good money,” Alves told MMA Fighting, revealing he’s getting paid six figures to fight in 2020. “The money they offered me made it worth it.”
Alves didn’t wear gloves in his first five bouts when started his MMA career in 2001, and is back to bare hands almost two decades later. He had to convince his wife to allow him to join another violent sport.
“She watched it with me before and said, ‘You’ll never fight that,’ and I told her, ‘Never say never,’” Alves laughed. “When I told her about the contract, the money, she said, ‘Alright, you can do it.’”
“I’ve watched some fights, and thought it was super cool, bloody, with lots of cuts, but I think this style matches perfectly with my game,” he continued. “That’s why I decided to test myself there. I’m sure I’ll do great. I’m excited to be part of this company. I’m here to become champion, and the money they are giving me, I have nothing to complain about, only to be thankful. I’ll train my ass off to become champion. I’ll break some faces there.”
Alves expects his BKFC debut to happen around April or May and believes that competing in a 165-pound weight class will bring great results. The Brazilian fighter won’t close the door on a possible return to MMA in the future, but it would take “great money” to convince him to sign with another promotion.
“It’s hard to leave the UFC,” Alves said. “I was in the UFC for a long time, and they kind of set a standard for what other promotions have to do in order for me to get excited to fight for another promotion. The UFC is the best promotion in the world, so it would have to be great money to make it worth it. Bare Knuckle FC exceeded my expectations, and it’s also a new challenge. At this point of my career, having a new challenge and also getting paid for it, I can’t say no.”