Although he’s been on the shelf for more than a year, Thiago Alves won’t have an easy matchup when he returns to the UFC on Aug. 17.
The former title challenger has been slated against one of the toughest welterweights in the UFC in Matt Brown, but coach Ricardo Liborio actually likes the matchup. In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show, Liborio discussed Alves as well as teammates Mike Thomas Brown and Brad Pickett, who will also be in action at UFC on Fox Sports 1.
On Alves’ return: “It was really hard for him to actually come back from all those injuries that he had in the past year or so, but he’s so determined. He’s so hungry. I think Matt Brown is going to be a very interesting and very well matched-up fight. This is a great matchup for ‘Pitbull.’ ‘Pitbull’ is a great matchup for Matt Brown too. Those guys are going to try to kill [each other].”
On Pickett, who fights Michael McDonald: “It’s time for Brad to get those guys that are ahead of him right now. Brad getting anybody top five, who is ahead of him right now, gives him a chance to get another title shot. I think Brad deserves that. Everybody wants to see him. Brad is one of the most exciting fighters ever and he deserves this chance.”
On McDonald: “This kid is awesome. I’ve been seeing him fight for a long, long time. I saw his last fight with [Renan] Barao and I really still think this kid is one of the best in the world. It will be a great fight to watch. It’s going to be very entertaining. Those two guys are going to bang and try to knock [each other] out and it will be excellent, at least for the fans. I trust Brad a lot. I think Brad is so hungry for this opportunity that he’s not going to let it pass this time.”
On Mike Thomas Brown’s coaching ability: “Mike is more mature than ever right now. He’s matured as a fighter and he’s matured as a coach. Sometimes fighters, especially when they get a certain age, they have anxiety to find out what they’re going to do after [fighting]. … There’s not every fighter who’s going to be a great coach. There’s not every coach who was a great fighter. That’s the way it plays. Mike has those qualities -- he’s definitely a great coach. He’s reliable and he’s one of the best guys there, not just because people [see] what he’s done but also he’s good. He knows how to explain and break down. He’s patient.”
On Brown considering retirement: “I think he’s very comfortable right now. The reality with Mike is he couldn’t let it go at a certain point because he loves the sport so much. He loves this so much. This is everything for Mike. I really don’t picture Mike doing anything else besides what he’s doing right now.”
On Dustin Poirier, who fights Erik Koch on Aug. 31 at UFC 164: “I think [Koch] is a great striker. There’s no doubt about that, but Dustin, man, this kid is a killer. This kid, when he is really ready, when he’s prepared, at 145, I could see this kid being champion of the world. There’s no doubt about it. Now his wife’s moved down to Florida. That was something that was bothering him also -- now that his wife moved down to Florida and they’re living here, he’s just training every day, just getting ready. He has a quality life and quality training partners. All those guys are going to be in camp. Everybody’s going to be there to train and support.”
On Poirier’s setbacks and his potential: “He’s 23 years old. We sometimes forget this. He’s so young. This kid in 10 years, he’s still 33. There’s fighters right now 37, 38, [and] they’re still contenders. … This kid has 10 years to improve, 10 years to figure it out. I believe Poirier can be the champion of the world at 145. I have no doubt about that.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:02).