GSP faces a tough challenge in hard-hitting Thiago Alves (Part 2 of 3)

Part 2: The Challenger

As the number one contender, Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves will have a crack at Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title in the upcoming UFC100.

Thiago Alves is a hard-hitting Muay Thai juggernaut. With his 16-3 record (7-2 in the UFC) 10 wins via KO, his fights were always sensational. His striking is by far one of the most feared among the welterweights. Evidently, the Pitbull can dish out pain. He has power in both hands, awesome knees and powerful leg kicks. In MMA, the counterpart of the boxing's body shot is the chopping leg kick. And Alves has the best leg kick in the business. It is not telegraphed and it always hits the target. Alves unleashes kicks with the intention to break femurs. He executes it differently but more efficiently. It seems to come from the top. Alves cocks his legs way above the target as it reaches its apex, he puts his whole torso on it and bombs his shins through the opponents’ thighs. Josh Koscheck had a pretty tight defense against Thiago but while Josh was preoccupied defending upstairs, the Pitbull was punishing Koscheck’s legs with thunderous kicks. In the long run, Kos offense had lost its spring and explosiveness. Takedowns attempts were slow and obvious; punches lack the power to hurt. It was caused by battered legs that couldn’t produce sufficient force because of trauma. As one of Alves tools of pain, he builds his striking game plan out of those thigh-bruising kicks. He knows that he can always count on them. It is pretty difficult to fight if you worry about receiving kicks downstairs.

Considerably, a Muay Thai practitioner must have exceptional knee strikes and this Brazilian fighter is Muay Thai at its best. Similarly to Anderson Silva, Alves has very good knees in the clinch. If Alves takes a hold on someone’s neck then tees away with his knees as he pulls their head down, it is like watching someone repeatedly getting their faces bashed in. Those knees are fast, sharp, and hard. He is able to throw them from awkward positions and his flying knees are highlight reels. A hit from those, is a certain KO. Just ask Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan, and Tony Desouza. All of them had tasted those knees.

Thiago Alves at 5’9” is solidly built. He’s a big welterweight. He has to cut a lot of weight to fight at 170. He had been suspended for failing a drug test. Apparently, he had used a diuretic spironolactone to lose excess water weight. Alves also weighed 4 lbs above the welterweight limit when he was scheduled to fight Hughes but the latter accepted the fight at catchweight. Despite these problems in making weight, Alves is too strong for the welterweight class. At fight night, he balloons to a hulking build, an intimidating figure that you know will create a lot of destruction. His size, strength, and athleticism compensate his still questionable wrestling skills. At least, it is harder to take him down and control him on the ground because of his physical attributes. He had troubles against good wrestlers like Jon Fitch and he had early problems with Parisyan's wrestling strategy before knocking him out. But his fights with takedown artists, Hughes and Koscheck, proved otherwise,

Thiago Alves had outstanding performances. He had defeated good fighters and pummeled a Hall of Famer in Matt Hughes. He finishes fights and KO’s most of his opponents. But Thiago Alves has a lot more to prove and a win against St. Pierre will erase all doubts.

Click for Part 3: The Match-up

Back to Part 1: The Champion


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