Thiago Alves made quite a statement at Friday’s weigh-ins. When the up-and-comer didn’t make the required 170-pound weight to take on UFC legend Matt Hughes, many thought that he didn’t respect the sport enough to take it seriously. Here he was given the golden opportunity of not only taking on the former champion, but also headline a UFC Pay-Per-View, and he didn’t have the maturity to appreciate it. Well luckily for him, Saturday was a new day.
If we learned nothing else from UFC 85, we learned that the future of the welterweight division may have arrived before the current “future” of the division is ready to leave. At 24 years of age, Alves displayed the power, speed and skills that it takes to be a top tier fighter, if not the champion, for years to come.
Current UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is only 27, and he himself is still considered as the division’s “future,” even though he is the “current.” The reigning champion is the epitome of what a true mixed martial artist is supposed to be. Well-rounded, talented, respectful and more importantly, feared. But at UFC 85, did Alves show everybody a glimpse of things to come?
St-Pierre is considered a “big” welterwieght, regularly cutting down from 185 pounds to make weight for his fights, but Alves has a thickness that the division has yet to see. Although Alves came in four pounds over weight, there was no way four pounds can make someone dwarf his opponent like that. Just a couple of years ago, it was Hughes that made his opponents look small, but those days have clearly come and gone.
With the win, Alves improved to 15-3, and has rolled off six straight victories in the UFC. With the dominating performance over Hughes, and the knockout performance over Karo Parisyan in his fight prior, it is tough to deny that Alves is the next in line for a title shot. And Alves knows it.
“Mr. Dana White, I’ve been a good boy. I never choose my opponents and I always give my best inside the Octagon,” pleaded a hungry Alves in his Octagon interview. “Please give me a title shot.”
Surely, with the run he is on, it would be tough to deny him a title shot against the winner of St-Pierre/Fitch, which is scheduled to take place at UFC 87 in August. No matter who his opponent might be, it is assured to be an exciting and explosive fight.
And as far as not being able to make weight the next time, and that “maturity” thing, Alves was respectful in his explanation.
“I want to apologize for not making weight,” said Alves. “I had a sprained ankle a few days before the fight and wasn’t able to train.”
Carpe diam is Latin for sieze the day and Alves certainly did that at UFC 85. Now, what will tomorrow hold?
(Picture Courtesy of UFC.com)