ST. LOUIS – Onetime UFC welterweight title challenger Thiago Alves knows how to overcome adversity in the cage.
But when hardship involves his family, he’s still getting the hang of things.
Alves might never have imagined he’d be forced to leave his house and live in his gym. He never thought he’d come back to his house one day to find his English bulldog of 10 years lying dead on his floor. But when Hurricane Irma struck South Florida this past September, his reference points for adversity were forcibly altered.
“Being a first-time father and husband, I’d never been through any situation like that,” Alves told MMAjunkie in advance of his FS1-televised fight against Zach Cummings at UFC Fight Night 124. “When it’s just me going through adversity, it’s easy. But when it involves your loved ones, it’s tough.”
Not only was Alves forced to withdraw from a highly anticipated fight with Mike Perry at UFC Fight Night 116, he also had to explain the circumstances of what happened and defend his decision to fans, who still questioned his mettle. Perry all but accused him of ducking. It stalled Alves’ career, too, when he finally was ready to compete again.
“I pretty much had to beg to get a fight scheduled,” Alves said. “And it’s outrageous. It kind of put a chip on my shoulder. After 12 years in this organization and doing what’s right by me and my family, I still have to prove myself day in and day out. Which, I don’t blame (people), it’s the nature of the business. You’re only as good as your last fight. But I was expecting a little more understanding.”
The good thing about adversity, in Alves’ case, is that it serves as propellant for his internal flame. Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC) will take the feelings from the fallout into his meeting with Cummings (21-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) on Sunday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“I’m hungry like I’ve never been before,” he said.
Alves admits injury setbacks and an ill-fated try at lightweight gave him a huge obstacle to overcome when he returned to his native welterweight division. But he still has designs on a title run and feels he’s better than ever with age and wisdom under his belt.
“I’m 34 years old,” Alves said. “This is the best I’ve ever been. This Thiago right now would destroy the Georges St-Pierre he fought when he was 25. It might not even be fair. It’s a new beginning, but it’s a much more focused and precise beginning for me.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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