UFC111 - Thiago Alves v John Fitch - Welterweight Fight
Thiago Alves will look to achieve revenge for his June 2006 loss to John Fitch when he steps into the Octagon at UFC 111. Since that TKO defeat, Alves has amassed a 7-1 record, the only mark against him being a loss to UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre. He has finished his opponent in five of those fights, most notably the destruction of UFC Hall of Famer and former champion Matt Hughes at UFC 85 in which he dropped Hughes with a flying knee and followed it up with strikes until the referee waved off the fight.
Training at ATT in Coconut Creek, Florida, Alves has evolved drastically since that loss to Fitch. His elite level Muay Thai is amongst the best in the division. He mixes up powerful combinations with devastating leg kicks and dangerous knees. The biggest improvement in his game however must surely be his takedown defense as evidenced by his 3 round clinic on Josh Koscheck at UFC 90. In that fight, Alves was able to shrug off Koscheck's takedowns and then pepper the former NCAA Division 1 champion throughout, rocking him on numerous occasions. It is these improvements which Alves will hope to use to defeat Fitch come March 27th.
Fitch's record since that initial fight with Alves is eerily similar to Alves, going 8-1, his lone loss also coming to St Pierre. 6/5 outsider Fitch's inability to finish opponents has made him unpopular with many UFC fans who have become underwhelmed by the string of decision wins which line his fight record. Fitch relies heavily on his NCAA Division 1 wrestling to grind out his opponents as he has done with Diego Sanchez and more recently Paulo Thiago. His lack of finishing ability may well be what holds him back and cause him to struggle to dispatch of 8/13 favourite Alves in convincing fashion.
Against the common opponent between the two, both men were unable to mount any notable offense in their attempts to dethrone St Pierre. Alves was repeatedly taken down and dominated by St Pierre's world class wrestling. Fitch was outstruck on the feet and also repeatedly put on his back despite his own impressive wrestling credentials.
Alves biggest obstacle can often be making the cut to 170 lb. for the weigh ins, often coming down from around 200 lbs. Once he makes weight successfully however, Alves will know what he has to do to win this fight; avoid ending up on his back and under Fitches controlling top game. Look for this fight to play out more like Alves' fight with Fitches AKA team mate Josh Koscheck, with Thiago avoiding the takedown and using his Muay Thai to light up Fitch en route to a late TKO or decision win.
With thanks to Paul McDonnell for contributing to this article.