For one night at least, Thiago Alves proved that rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
The American Top Team welterweight welcomed highly touted prospect Papy Abedi to the Octagon last night (November 5, 2011) and after some exciting back-and-forth exchanges, he was able to hand the Swedish-Congolese fighter his first professional defeat with a wild first round stoppage.
In fact, it was the first submission victory of the former welterweight title challenger's 16-fight UFC career.
So how did Alves put down the prospect? And more importantly, where do both welterweights go from here?
Early on, Alves threw a series of kicks both to the body and legs and they were with bad intentions. Abedi responded by once again taking advantage of some deficiencies in Alves' footwork, pressing forward with combinations and forcing "The Pitbull" into the fence. It appeared to me that Abedi was looking to use a similar gameplan that Rick Story was able to implement.
After separating, Abedi again tried to force Alves into the fence but this time the Dolce Diet disciple wisely circled away from danger. This was where Abedi made a grave mistake.
As he began to open up a little more with his lead right hook, he began to drop his left hand that was defending his head. Alves hit him once and Abedi did nothing to improve his defenses.
Alves immediately pounced on the opening by tagging Abedi with a heavy right hand to the temple that ruined the judo practitioner's equilibrium and he followed it up with a beautiful left hook to the chin that knocked him further off balance.
With Abedi doing the chicken dance in front of him, it just took one more crisp right hook to drop him to the canvas. That last right hook was thrown with Alves' entire body. Watch how he rotates his hips slightly, adding significant power to the compact strike. He would have hit him with a follow-up left uppercut had Abedi not gone down already.
From here, Alves' killer instinct completely took over. He swarmed the Swede with ground and pound and instantly passed to mount to further improve his position.
Alves' mount was absolutely brutal. Instead of dropping pitter-patter short strikes while postured up, he instead held Abedi's head in place and dropped some of the nastiest elbows you'll ever see. After getting bloodied up, Abedi had had enough.
You can see the moment the fight leaves the prospect as he turns away from the punishment, leaving his neck completely exposed. Alves thanks him for the gift by latching on a rear naked choke which forced an almost instantaneous tap.
All that was left for Alves was the "shoulder brush" victory dance.
For Papy Abedi, this was simply a case of too much, too fast for the talented newcomer. He proved that he could hang with Alves for the first few minutes of the fight but he simply wasn't ready to take on someone of "The Pitbull's" caliber for a full 15 minute fight. He'll be back though, just against lesser competition.
Depending on how highly Joe Silva sees Abedi's potential being, i'd like to see him against someone like Charlie Brenneman in his next fight, or perhaps a fighter further down the rankings like an Amir Sadollah or Matt Riddle. He definitely should be thrown in against someone a little less dangerous for his next bout.
For Thiago Alves, the beginning of the fight may have made his fans a little bit concerned, but his performance down the stretch was a throwback to the Alves of old, the one who was wrecking everyone in his path. It was great to see him open the fight with kicks and then finish it with punches and elbows. We got to see him utilize nearly all his weapons in this match-up.
Alves will not be given easy fights from here on out. Perhaps a match against Diego Sanchez would make sense. If Dong Hyun Kim defeats Sean Pierson at UFC 141, he would make an intriguing match-up as well. The only other bout that makes sense is perhaps the winner of the upcoming match between Rory MacDonald and Brian Ebersole. Either way, for at least one night, Thiago Alves is back!
So what did you think Maniacs?
Were you inspired by Alves' strong showing? Does Papy Abedi still have a decent future in the welterweight division?
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.