Last night (Sat., Nov. 5, 2011), Thiago Alves rocked Octagon newcomer Papy Abedi before locking in a submission inside the first round at UFC 138: "Leben vs. Munoz" at the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.
And he made look easy.
It wasn't, though. Far from it, in fact, as Alves has gone through a great deal of turmoil ever since challenging for the welterweight championship back in July 2009 at the historic UFC 100 event.
A loss to Jon Fitch in his rebound fight is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But his missing weight for that bout was and it had his employers telling him he needed to move up to middleweight.
And the fans slowly started to turn against him.
A win over John Howard quelled that talk for a short time but a follow up loss to Rick Story, a fight he was supposed to win, had fans wondering if the old "Pitbull" had lost all his bite.
Then, another weight issue before last night's fight against Abedi had the world ready to tear his head off. Even with the rather simple explanation, fans were ready to wash their hands and be rid of him if he couldn't get it done.
But he's not amateur and he performed incredibly under pressure. That's partially because he's been through it all at this point. His new attitude? Bring it on!
"Yeah, you know, I've been through some tough spots," Alves explained at the UFC 138 post-fight press conference. "But, that's just life and the way it happens. This fight was very special for me because I put in a lot of work. It opened my eyes to a lot of things. So, I'm very happy and very prepared for whatever comes next.... I think the more time you spend in this sport, you find more ways to get get, somehow, some way. You stop thinking about the bad stuff. It's just life. Sometimes you got to go through the bad stuff to get better. And that's where I am right now. I've been through all of it and I'm ready. I'm very excited. Bring it on!"
After his performance last night, Alves has every reason to feel like he can take on the world.
Abedi opened the fight aggressive, looking to bully his opponent by pushing him up against the cage and keeping the pressure on. Alves, however, is a seasoned veteran and he knows how to handle himself in such adverse situations.
Which is why he was able to remain patient and explode when the time was right for a near knockout that he turned into his first submission win under the Zuffa banner.
So what's next for "The Pitbull," who seemingly has the bite to go with the bark once again? Maybe not the world, but a top tier welterweight will do.