Alves scratched from UFC 111 bout

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Thiago Alves, who was to have faced Jon Fitch on Saturday, is one of MMA's top welterweights.
(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

NEWARK, N.J. – Thiago Alves, one of the top welterweights in mixed martial arts, failed three medical tests ordered by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board and was forced to pull out of his highly anticipated fight set for Saturday at the Prudential Center against Jon Fitch on the pay-per-view portion of UFC 111.

Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White confirmed the news Thursday.

Alves said he did two MRIs and one CAT scan at home in Florida. He said doctors said they saw something they initially thought was a bleed on the brain, but later thought it was something with which he was born.

Alves said the New Jersey commission “is particular” and was not comfortable clearing him to fight.

“I was really upset and I’m not even concerned about my health,” Alves said. “I know I’m fine. I’m just sad I can’t fight.”

Alves, 26, has not fought since losing a five-round decision to Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight title at UFC 100 on July 11 in Las Vegas. He’s 16-6 overall and, before the loss to St. Pierre, had won seven in a row since a 2006 loss to Fitch.

Ben Saunders is now expected to face Fitch instead, but if the fight can’t come together a lightweight bout between Kurt Pellegrino and Fabricio Camoes will replace it on the live broadcast.

The winner of the Fitch-Alves fight was tentatively slated to take on the winner of Saturday’s championship main event between St. Pierre and Dan Hardy for the title.

“This doesn’t make any sense, because he’s too young,” White said. “But it’s something we’re taking very seriously. We’re going to get him to a specialist as soon as we can.”

Aaron M. Davis, the commissioner of the control board, was not in his office on Thursday and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Alves couldn’t be reached for comment, but Fitch said he learned of the postponement around 10 a.m. ET on Thursday. He said he was devastated by the news.

“Obviously, I’m devastated this fight is not happening, but at the same time, I’m more concerned for Thiago and his health,” Fitch said. “I’m hoping it’s a clerical error or some kind of mistake or something. This is something that has to be taken seriously because it’s the brain.

“This was a significant fight in my career and it would have put me back in title contention. I haven’t talked to [Alves], but I talked to his coach and it was a surprise to them. It’s a thing with the commission and the doctors.”

Fitch said he wasn’t sure if he would be able to still compete on the UFC’s next pay-per-view event, UFC 112 on April 10 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Kevin Iole covers boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Kevin a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Mar 25, 2010