There’s a well known policy amongst the fighters who train at American Top Team in Florida that’s called ‘no strap, no scrap’.
The meaning behind the phrase is that American Top Team fighters won’t face each other without a title belt on the line, but that scenario might be creeping up on the veteran squad as another welterweight contender might emerge this weekend while champion Robbie Lawler prepares for his bout with Rory MacDonald in July.
Thiago Alves has been a member of American Top Team for the past decade and for most of that time he was the top dog in the gym when it came to the welterweight division.
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In the past few years, the gym has added Lawler, top-five ranked fighter Tyron Woodley, as well as Hector Lombard, who dropped down from middleweight to welterweight in 2013.
This weekend, Alves could find himself in the crosshairs of a potential title shot with a win over Carlos Condit and he’s not oblivious to the fact that it means he could have to face his teammate Lawler in the Octagon next.
While the fighters at American Top Team all realize that a title as prestigious as the UFC welterweight gold is the only reason they’d face each other, Alves will still tackle the issue when it’s actually real.
"We haven’t talked about that yet because it hasn’t happened," Alves told FOX Sports. "We’ll cross that bridge but it’s not time just yet. I’m 100-percent focused on Condit and once that’s said and done, we’ll see what’s next.
"I have a big fight coming up, he has a big fight coming up so first things first, and then we’ll deal with that issue once it gets to that point."
It’s a known fact that the fighters from American Top Team would face off with a belt on the line, but Alves still respects his teammate enough to talk to him about it before it actually becomes reality.
That said, without a win this weekend over Condit and Alves just goes back on the pile as another fighter scratching and clawing to get into the top 10 instead of knocking on the door of a title shot.
In the end, Alves says the fact that he’ll move into title contention this weekend with a win, where he’ll join his teammate Tyron Woodley in the race to see who can get to Lawler first, is a good thing.
It’s a testament to the coaching and hard work put in at American Top Team everyday and there’s nothing wrong with having three or four of the top welterweights in the world all competing to get to the belt.
"It’s definitely a blessing," Alves said about his training partners at American Top Team. "It keeps you honest, it keeps you sharp. It makes you be on point with every possible little thing. It makes you be your best. There’s no sleeping."