Defeating Karo Parisyan is what put American Top Team fighter Thiago Alves in the Top 10 in the world, but on June 7 he has a chance to fight former UFC champion Matt Hughes and possibly place himself as the No. 1 contender for the title.
Coming off the win over Parisyan at UFC Fight Night 13 in April, Alves said recently in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio that he had no hesitation at all stepping up on short notice to face Hughes in the main event of UFC 85 in England.
"That was perfect timing. I just came from the fight on April 2 so I was already in shape, so just keep doing the hard work and that's it," said Alves.
"My manager called me and you know 'they want you to fight Matt Hughes.' (Expletive) yeah, I'll be there! Let me know when. They said June 7 and that's perfect timing. I called my conditioning coach, all my coaches, and I asked them let's do it."
What Alves will be facing in Hughes is possibly the most prolific champion in UFC history, and a fighter who has defeated many top challengers in the past.
"Matt Hughes is a tough guy," Alves stated. "He's the most dominant welterweight of all time, and I'm really excited. I've been seeing this guy fighting forever, just like Karo, and I can't wait. It's my time, and I'm really excited."
Many critics of this fight have boiled it down to Hughes' ability to take the fight to the ground and Alves' ability to stop the takedown. The Brazilian understands there's much more to the fight than that simple equation.
"No, I wish it was just takedown defense, it would be really easy. But it's not like that, it's an MMA fight so anything can happen," he commented. "Of course he's a wrestler, he's a grappler guy, so he's going to try to take me down. That's his main thing, I'm pretty sure, same thing as me, I'm going to try to knock him out. I might try to take him down. I don't know what I'm going to do yet."
If the fight does hit the ground, Alves is confident in his ground skill, working alongside ground wizards such as Marcello Garcia and Marcus Aurelio every day at American Top Team.
"I've got tons and tons of black belts at American Top Team and I'm comfortable everywhere," he said. "We've got good grapplers, we've got good strikers, we've got good wrestlers."
If Alves is able to withstand Hughes' attacks and pick up the win, many would consider him the top contender in the welterweight division, waiting for champion Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch to square off in August.
"I'm hoping to get the winner," said Alves about the match-up between St. Pierre and Fitch.