Time to take a look at the first of the two world championship fights on Saturday's card:
Coming off of a superfight victory against world lightweight champion B.J. Penn, GSP seems to have everything working right for him at this point in his career. He has displayed insane wrestling skills, precision striking, a fair amount of submission skill and Bo Jackson-like athleticism. At 28 years old he has become even more than a world championship welterweight fighter. He has become a money making machine that has inked a recent promotional deal with Gatorade to go with his multitude of other sponsorships. St. Pierre always seems to be able to dictate the pace of a fight and where the action occurs. He currently has a professional record of 18-2 with 8 wins coming by way of knockout and 5 wins coming by way of submission. When one looks at the numbers they're immediately struck by the phenomenal level of competition that this guy has faced in his career. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is an incredible 76.3% (source Sherdog.com)!
It would be hard to find a more worthy title contender in any weight class than "The Pitbull" Thiago Alves. This American Top Team fighter has some vicious striking. He has leveled world class competition with both his fists and his knees. I'm thinking that the longer this fight stays standing the better for Alves. One other thing to keep in mind here: GSP typically has somewhat of a size advantage against his welterweight opponents since he is a very large 170 pounder. That will not be the case on Saturday. Thiago Alves is probably the biggest welterweight that I've ever seen (in terms of his overall frame). It's amazing to me that the guys at ATT are able to help this fighter make the welterweight limit (although he has missed the mark in the past). Alves has a professional record of 16-3 with 10 wins coming by way of knockout and 1 win coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 69.5%.
Analysis of the fight after the jump:
Rich Wyatt's Analysis- Alves is in a bit of a tough spot here. He's probably legitimately one of the very best welterweights on the planet. The problem is that a guy named Georges St. Pierre runs this block and he happens to be both in his prime and one of the all-time greats. I don't give Thiago much of a chance on the ground against St. Pierre but getting Alves there may prove to be difficult for GSP. I'm a little torn here since Thiago has tons of ability but my official prediction here has to be for Georges St. Pierre. He's on an incredible run and it's hard for me to see him being shutdown right now. What do you think? Does "The Pitbull" take the title or does the belt stay in Canada?
Charles Walker's Analysis- While I think this fight will be well contested, I think Thiago Alves' style is in some ways tailor made for Georges St. Pierre. First and most important, Alves relies on leg kicks a lot in his fights, mainly to keep the distance and also set up his striking. With a guy like GSP, who has become one of MMA's most dangerous wrestlers that will be a no-no. As much snap and pop as Alves puts into his shots, he tends to lunge forward with his kicks, which if timed well, will give GSP full access to shoot in and get the takedown. Now I know what many are saying, ‘if neither Matt Hughes nor Josh Koscheck could take or keep Thiago down, what makes you think GSP will?' it's simple...both guys tried to do so after they had gotten hit or hurt during the course of their bouts and neither set up their takedowns properly. Now this is solely speculation, but I do think St. Pierre will be a little wiser in how he sets up his takedowns and how he mixes it up with Alves on the feet. I think the first two or three minutes will be the most telling, as we will most likely get a glimpse of how each fighter will approach the fight. If Alves uses his Muay Thai effectively and comes out of the gate as the aggressor, he could wipe out a few of GSP's short term memories. If GSP keeps the distance properly and uses his jab/shoot combination that worked so well against guys like Matt Serra and BJ Penn, we could see the Muay Thai wrecking machine reduced to a pile of hamburger meat. I say we will know who has the clear cut advantage by the end of the first round on Saturday night.