I like Thiago Alves, he is an aggressive fighter with excellent strikes and kicks. As such he is exciting to watch. Early in his career he was submitted a couple of times but has hugely improved his takedown defence as he showed against former champion Matt Hughes and earlier against Karo Parisyan. Fighting out of American Top Team Alves trains regularly with exceptional BJJ fighters and has clearly developed in this regard. Alves likes to uses his striking skills as part of his takedown defence, anyone shooting in on him can expect knee strikes!
Alves has excellent leg kicks which he uses to reduce the mobility of opponents, apparent against Koschek who received plenty on the way to a unanimous decision. On the ground Alves likes to get back up again, a simple tactic but ideal as he really is a great stand up fighter. Against Hughes and others, when in the opponent’s guard Alves strikes, viciously negating the other fighters BJJ game, at least to an extent.
This approach has got him to number one contender in the welterweight division, he has won his last seven fights. In UFC 100 Alves fights GSP for the title in a great match up. While not as all-rounded as GSP, Alves will pose a significant problem for him, clearly he will want a stand up battle, while GSP can fight standing he likes to bash ‘em up a bit on the floor, his takedowns are exceptional these days.
On the face of it Alves will try to spoil takedown attempts and any ground strategy GSP may have with intense striking and keep it stand up. His vicious kicks, with both knee and shin will definitely give St. Pierre problems if he lands them, while his strikes are equally as dangerous.
GSP will try to use his slick transitions between the fighting phases to wear Alves down and dominate him, probably through ground and pound and variations of it, he likes to use knee strikes to the body on the ground. He sets up his takedowns beautifully and has great success against fantastic wrestlers and BJJ fighters, it maybe more difficult against Alves as he only really wants to defend takedowns, this may be a factor.
Will the Alves’ tactic of spoil and strike be enough to stop GSP’s fluid all-round fighting style? GSP tends to come into the octagon with a strictly designed game plan for each fight; he may use something different to what I suggest, we will see at UFC 100, July 11th