In two months, the UFC will be going to Calgary, Canada for the first time. The card is stacked and features the featherweight title bout with Jose Aldo defending his strap against a very tough Erik Koch. It marks the first of three UFC cards set to take place in Canada this year.
One of the other compelling match-ups on this card features Thiago Alves vs. Siyar Bahadurzada in a welterweight fight that is sure to appeal to the masses. Alves is coming off a tough loss to Martin Kampmann, and is looking to set his record back on the right path. In a recent interview, The Pitbull discusses his new opponent, the future opportunity of a rematch with Kampmann and how people may be underestimating his ground game.
I'm very excited. I think it's not a better match-up, but that it's a better fight, because Siyar is coming from a big knockout against Paulo Thiago, and I definitely want to avenge that with a victory for my country, and of course for my camp as well. He has a lot of hype behind him, so I'm very excited to accept this challenge.
I feel like I have the edge in experience, and in the level of competition. The level of competition he was fighting wasn't the level of the competition that I'm used to fighting. That's definitely going to come into play with this fight. Also, the skillset comes into play. I think I'm a much better fighter everywhere in the game, and July 21, I'm going to go out there and execute it.
Future Rematch With Kampmann
It's not my focus right now, That's in the past, and I learned a lot from it. My main focus right now is to knock out or submit my next opponent. After that is done, then yeah, that is definitely something that I want to have in my future. We're definitely going to meet again, and we're going to square off. I guarantee I won't make the same mistake twice. All the fights that I've lost, I definitely want to avenge, but that one is something that I need to get as soon as possible. I've just got to take care of Siyar first.
Thoughts On Training At Different Camps
I travel around to train at different American Top Team camps, but I've never been to any other camp. I think I went to Wanderlei's (Silva) gym, once, a long time ago, but I've never trained with anybody else. The problem with most gyms is that you don't have enough bodies in there to train with. You don't have enough people to train you, and that's why other people travel around.
At ATT, that's not how it is at all. We've got too many guys there. I get everything that I need just five minutes away from my house. If anything is missing, we can always bring somebody in. ATT does a great job at bringing fighters in and putting them in houses and giving them transportation, so they can make our life much easier and our training much better. I don't go anywhere else because I have everything I need right there.
External Camp Training Partners
We've got a lot of guys in here already because Bigfoot (Antonio Silva) is getting ready for his next fight, so we've got a lot of big boys coming in. I'm definitely going to bring in Melvin Manhoef, though. He's one of the guys that's going to come help me out for this fight. There will be a few other people that will also be brought in to help me out.
Main Focus Points For Fight
My main focus is to get myself ready for 15 minutes of war. He's a striker by trade, and he's finished his last five fights by way of TKO or something like that, so I know he's going to come swinging. That's perfect, because it's my bread and butter as well.
This is MMA, so I've got to be prepared everywhere in the game. My main focus is to get myself ready for 15 minutes of battle, and once we get in there, it's to institute my game plan, which is to finish him, either with a knockout or a submission. It's going to be a great fight.
He comes from a highly decorated striking background, and he's from Golden Glory, but, he's never rolled with the big boys before. The first fight he has in the UFC was too quick. We really don't know what he's made of yet. I'm going to put him to the test, though. I know I'm the better fighter. I know I'm more well rounded. I guarantee this fight won't go the distance. I'm either going to knock him out or I'm going to submit him.
People Forgetting His Ground Game
I haven't really had the opportunity to show my ground game until the last couple fights. I've always had it, I was just never able to show it. I just didn't feel like taking people down and holding them there since I already had the advantage standing up.
This sport has changed and I'm a more complete fighter because of that. I can fight anywhere in the game. People think we're just going to go out there and trade punches, and they might be right, but at any moment, I can take the fight to the ground, and I can mess you up once you're on the bottom. He has a lot of things to worry about, and so have I, but I've got a lot more tools to finish the fight.
Working With Mike Dolce
It's not just the nutrition side of it. He's doing my strength and conditioning, as well. Dolce is such a wise man. He's a great benefit, and being around him, you can just feel the positive energy. Since I've been working with him, my life has changed completely. I actually eat a lot more than what I used to eat before. It's smaller portions, but I eat a lot more throughout the day.
Making weight has never been pleasurable before, but now I see it as cleaning my body out. I'm clarifying everything inside so I can prepare for the battle. That's the mentality I have now. I'm completely adjusted to Living Lean. I don't think I could ever go back to the way I used to eat.I feel great. It's so much better than it was three years ago.I think I'm much younger now, at 28, than I was at 24. It's definitely a blessing to have a guy like him backing me up and in my corner.
That's my boy. Bubba is a great athlete. He's a big name in wrestling. He has a long way to go as far as MMA, because he's a baby, and is just getting started. He can take a punch. We proved that in training. If he takes this as seriously as wrestling, it's just a matter of time for him to be great. He has all the tools to do very well for himself.
Follow Thiago via his Twitter, @ThiagoAlvesATT