GSP faces a tough challenge in hard-hitting Thiago Alves (Part 3 of 3)
Ever since, the champion has been fighting with a reasonably general strategy customized with few critical tweaks and fine-tuning based on his opponents’ strength and weakness. Mixing things up, strike using his quickness and technical brilliance then, with it, set up a takedown. After that, severe ground and pound while keeping an eye for submission opportunities. If it goes standing again, repeat step one. It’s rather simple and only GSP can to pull it off to perfection. But this time, against the man they call the Pitbull, he has some crucial obstacles to contend with
It is very rare and perhaps, the first time that GSP will face a bigger and maybe even stronger opposition.
Thiago Alves knows that his chances of winning are much higher if the fight will stay standing. He believes that he hits harder and he has the better kickboxing skills. Indeed, a more than 50% KO ratio strongly suggests that he’ll be better off striking. Thiago, as usual, will play the stalker, in your face pressure fighter route; a very traditional muay thai approach where he stays square and always in front the opponent. He will set-up his kicks especially the leg-kicks but he must be aware that St. Pierre is very good at catching those kicks then following up with the straight right or takedown or both. But then again, Alves does not seem to telegraph does leg kicks and he does not throw them haphazardly just to be caught by a counter. Thiago just needs to be careful with those. Although it is quite a big risk for GSP making it a stand-up fight, he just might get the better of Alves if he will use his innate quickness and footwork. A good stick–and-move, in-out-in-out, up-down-up-down, may just work against the challenger. But I repeat, BIG risk!
If Thiago avoids being taken down and if his leg kicks consistently lands even for just two rounds, the fight will most likely go his way. GSP must avoid those punishing kicks so he can still be explosive in his offense. If you take away GSP’s legs you take away the tools he heavily relies on --- footwork, takedown explosiveness, superman attacks, kicks.
Battered thighs = GSP, a sitting duck.
The safest route for Georges to take is to stay off the striking pocket of Alves by either staying on his toes in striking or by bridging the distance then do some clinching and grappling depriving Thiago sufficient distance to tee off on his attacks. The latter will be much safer and if he takes Alves down, even better for
Entering the fourth and fifth rounds, GSP can safely gamble more in stand-up considering his legs are not battered. At that point, you may witness some flashy moves from the champion. If this is the case, in the final rounds,
This will be their probable strategies:
Rounds 1-3: Fairly defensive and low-risk; avoid the Pitbull legkicks; some striking but mainly to set-up the wrestling and takedown attempts; main purpose is to tire Alves; if fight goes to the ground…work,work,work
Rounds 4 and 5: Dominate! ; if uncertain go ground and work,work,work
Rounds 1-3: Bully GSP on striking; Pressure effectively, land those leg kicks and if in clinch, throw those knees but be aware that one leg off the ground is 50% more susceptible for takedowns; Capitalize on openings, knock him out whenever possible; Never get on your back. If there is an opportunity, being on top of GSP is a good position; Pace yourself avoid gassing out
Rounds 4 and 5: If all goes to plan in the early rounds disposing GSP in these final rounds will be fairly easy
This match will be decided by the fighter’s successful execution of gameplan, particularly in the early rounds. The winner will be the one who effectively imposes his will and cancels the oppositions’ strengths.