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UFC 237 card: Thiago Alves vs Laureano Staropoli full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight strikers Thiago Alves and Laureano Staropoli will throw down this Saturday (May 11, 2019) at UFC 237 from Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

If we’re all being entirely honest, Alves was quite lucky to walk away with the judges’ decision last time out, as most felt Max Griffin deserved the nod. All the same, it was a better performance from Alves, who rallied back from a terrible first round to hurt Griffin badly in the second, proving there’s still something left in the Brazilian’s tank. Meanwhile, Staropoli made his UFC debut in his native Argentina back in Nov. 2018, picking up a fun decision win in the process. This will be a massive step up in competition for “Pepi,” but he’s also not facing the Alves of old.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Thiago Alves

Record: 23-13
Key Wins: Patrick Cote (UFC 210), Jordan Mein (UFC 183), Josh Koscheck (UFC 90), Matt Hughes (UFC 85)
Key Losses: Carlos Condit (UFC Fight Night 67), Rick Story (UFC 130), Martin Kampmann (UFC on FX 2), Curtis Milliender (UFC Fight Night 126)
Keys to Victory: Alves has seen it all in his 14 years on UFC’s roster. At 35 years of age — a professional fighter since 17! — Alves is definitely nearing the end of his mixed martial arts (MMA) journey, but Alves remains a potent Muay Thai striker with genuine knockout power.

In general, there’s one key question to ask that determines how well Alves is doing in any particular fight: is “The Pitbull” landing low kicks? The Brazilian’s low kicking game was among the best in the world in his prime, and it’s still a vital tool for him that allows Alves to slow down his foes and set up his other strikes.

Staropoli’s path to victory involves throwing more than Alves, taking advantage of his youth and toughness to overcome Alves’ technical edge and experience. To slow down Staropoli, low kicks will definitely be a major tool. In addition, Alves is very skilled at counter punching from a tight guard. If Alves is chopping at the leg and landing counters as Staropoli advances, the younger man may not be quite so excited to rush forward.

Laureano Staropoli

Record: 8-1
Key Wins: Hector Aldana (UFC Fight Night 140)
Key Losses: Alejandro Ezequiel Coslovsky (Punishers 4)
Keys to Victory: Staropoli — like many prospects to emerge from the South American scene — turned professional at a fairly young age and has been fighting longer than his record would suggest. In his debut, Staropoli straight up brawled with Aldana, walking down his foe with punches-in-bunches and taking over as the fight wore on.

Alves is a much better kickboxer than Aldana, but the strategy should be the same here. Alves simply is not as durable as he once was nor can he maintain the type of pace that “Pepi” can set.

As mentioned above, Alves is probably going to look to settle down Staropoli with low kicks, counters, and maybe even a takedown. All of that is a definite threat to the Argentinian, which is the reason Staropoli has to be smart early. He has to pressure and throw early, but that’s also when Alves is most dangerous, making it pivotal that Staropoli keep his defense as tight as possible until Alves begins to slow down.

Bottom Line: In truth, this is a pretty weak bout on an otherwise strong pay-per-view (PPV) card.

Still, Alves is worth-watching. The Brazilian may be unable to match his own past durability, explosiveness, or giant muscles, but that doesn’t mean his fights are not fun. In fact, Alves’ last two bouts were both back-and-forth brawls, as “Pitbull” is very willing to go out on his sword if need be.

For Alves, this bout is light on consequences, but the opposite is true for Staropoli. This is absolutely the toughest fight on his career, and it’s happening on a far bigger platform than he’s ever experienced. Alves may not be a contender anymore, but that name still holds value, and a win over the Brazilian still does not come easily. In short, it’s a major opportunity for the young Argentinian, a chance to introduce himself to fight fans who — for the most part — do not yet know his name.

At UFC 237, Thiago Alves and Laureano Staropoli will square off in a Welterweight battle. Which man will earn the victory?

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