Rafael Alves makes his UFC debut Saturday at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas against short-notice replacement Pat Sabatini in a featherweight bout at UFC Vegas 19, but that will be just a quick stop at 145 pounds.
A former Titan FC interim lightweight champion, Alves decided to cut extra 10 pounds for his first UFC appearance after finishing Alejandro Flores at Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2020. “The Turn,” however, has decided to follow the advice of MMA Masters’ teammate Colby Covington.
“He always tells me to move up a weight class,” Alves said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He told me, ‘You’re big for this weight class and no one will catch you at 155.’ I’m going up to 155 pounds after this fight.”
Alves hasn’t competed as a featherweight since December 2014, when he scored a 31-second submission victory at Jungle Fight 75. Covington convinced him that “you’ll be fighting all the time in the UFC at 155 because you won’t have to cut much weight.”
“And he’s right,” Alves said. “My normal weight is 195 pounds and I cut to 145. If I go to 155, I make weight no problem. I could make it today if I had to.”
Covington is a former UFC interim welterweight titleholder and became persona non grata in Alves’ home country for his post-fight remarks about the country following his win over Demian Maia in Sao Paulo back in 2017. Alves, however, knows a different side of the controversial UFC welterweight.
“Colby is very humble, he always gives me advice,” he said. “He always says, ‘Rafael, whatever you need from me, financial of anything else, you can count on me, I’m here to help you.’
“He’s a good guy. Many people think he’s that guy because of that stunt in Brazil, but no. He did that to sell, because his contract was about to expire, and the UFC wasn’t going to offer him a new one.”