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What I Learned From A Few Days with “The Pitbull”

(The July issue, with a cover story written by one of Cage Potato’s own.)

The first thing I learned about Thiago Alves when Fight! Magazine sent me down to south Florida to write this month’s cover story on the UFC’s top welterweight contender, is that is he doesn’t exactly have the same concept of time that most people do.   At first I was willing to chalk it up to “Brazilian time.”  Then I talked to some of his friends and training partners, who were also Brazilians, and even they thought Thiago had a problem.  To them it was a running joke.  Brazilian time gave way to “Thiago’s time.”  For me, the guy trying to learn as much as possible about him in only a few days, it was a little more stressful.

The good news, I would come to learn, is that even if he may show up three hours late, Thiago always shows up.  And when he does he’s so positive and good-natured about everything, it’s hard to even stay annoyed for very long, which is in itself kind of annoying. 

Regardless, his training partners and coaches don’t seem to mind it.  As I followed him from his strength and conditioning workouts to his sparring sessions, I began to realize that even if it might take him a while to show up, there’s never any question about the work does once he’s there.

Alves isn’t kidding himself about how difficult an opponent Georges St. Pierre is going to be.  When I asked him and his American Top Team cohorts where they thought GSP’s weak spots were, none of them could come up with much of an answer.  They are expecting the champ to be the beast that everyone says he is.  They just think Alves is better.

(Designer sunglasses and a brand new Rover.  Livin’ large.)

Personally, I left Florida just amazed that Alves can even make welterweight.  It’s proved difficult for him in the past, and once you get a glimpse of him it’s easy to see why.  The guy walks around somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds, and yet there’s hardly an ounce of fat on him, which surprised me somewhat after I ate lunch with him and watched him pack away a plate of fried wontons just as a warm-up before getting down to business.

As I think you’ll see in the article, however, few fighters are more driven than Alves.  He’s twenty-five years old, has money and fame, owns three cars, and is a few weeks away from a shot at the UFC title.  But talking with him or watching him in the gym, you wouldn’t know that he’s achieved anything yet.  The guy is always hungry for more, which is a good damn thing considering what’s waiting for him.


Check out the full story on Thiago Alves in this month’s issue of Fight! Magazine, available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, CVS, and just about everywhere else that sells kick-ass MMA publications.  Or, for subscriber info, go here.

Cagepotato Comments

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TVGuy3- July 11, 2009 at 8:33 am
hacked, sorry
Hexed79- July 6, 2009 at 10:42 am
"200 is probably true, which is probably why he'll gas and GSP will win via cardio submission like he did against BJ in both their fights."

More evidence that people have no idea how robbed BJ got in the first fight against GSP. BJ - GSP I was a decision, and a very poorly formed one at that.

I don't like Alves' chances, but that doesn't mean he has none.
ScrambledEggs- June 18, 2009 at 10:02 pm
Jake Shields would choke this mother fucker into unconsciousness.
Komodo- June 18, 2009 at 5:53 am
Dmonicideals- June 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm
GSP by Chunk not making weight, or popping positive. Again.
Canadian Chronic- June 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm
GSP will dominate this fight. He may not have the striking power that Alves has, but, Alves' primary discipline is Muay Thai. I think he's a brown belt(?) in Jits. Shit wrestling. Mark my words, GSP by gnp all the way. Alves will be taken down like K-os and pounded the fuck out. When cutting that much weight, he wont have anything in the gas tank for later rounds.

Wont even be close. 50-45 or 50-44 on the scorecards.

Harry Russo- June 17, 2009 at 3:36 pm
May the best juicer win.
Judo Im Right- June 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm
200 is probably true, which is probably why he'll gas and GSP will win via cardio submission like he did against BJ in both their fights.

Hopefully, GSP can avoid the roid power in the early rounds and we can watch Alves fade like baroni
Ddmmanole- June 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm
Alves said on an episode of Inside MMA that he walks around at 200-205 lbs.
MMAMoneyLine- June 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm
I like Alves a lot, but I can't see the guy who Spencer Fisher submitted beating the best mixed martial artist alive not named Fedor Emelianenko.
just some dong- June 17, 2009 at 11:45 am
If Alves really is cutting from 200 lbs of pure muscle down to 170, then there's no way he's going 5 hard rounds with GSP. And Rush is too smart anymore to lose in the early rounds.

GSP by unstoppable riddum.

831 Son- June 17, 2009 at 11:35 am
Does the neighborhood of 200 pounds mean 185-190? Because I highly doubt that short stack walks around at 200. Sorry but you should clarify that because that is not true.
Soup Sandwich Server- June 17, 2009 at 11:30 am
After reading this, I have no respect for Alves. 200 lbs???? Go fight middleweight you douchebag. WAR GSP (as always)
NateGetsIrate- June 17, 2009 at 11:30 am
"He’s twenty-five years old, has money and fame, owns three cars, and is a few weeks away from a shot at the UFC title."

We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars...
831 Son- June 17, 2009 at 11:19 am
Stop posting comments like you are writing essays.

Anyways, I think GSP will take this although Alves has got some mean power in his strikes. GSP is just more well rounded. And Jon fitch fucked up Alves, and GSP wooped Fitch. So we'll see what happens.
MyFightWiffaCheeto- June 17, 2009 at 11:11 am
ATT Nuthugger here... yet also a Team Jackson nuthugger... Hmmm...

I'll keep it in the 'hood and go with Alves and ATT. I loves me some Georges but I think Thiago's unpredictable striking and power helps him out a lot. Like I said before he better be have one hell of a good takedown defense and an improved clinch game for this fight.

GetUpAndKill- June 17, 2009 at 11:01 am
Good job Ben!
This gig is getting real, your access is pro. I'm still surprised at the difference here since say a year ago. Congrats!

Anyway, If Serra can KO GSP than Alves surely will dispute that. But the difference here is power vs. execution. Alves has to be keen to fight GSP's unpredictability. I was at the Tristar gym in Montreal about 3 weeks ago and the Rush was JACKED. He is looking solid, so couple that with his wrestling and Jitz (which is where this fight will eventually go) he will have enough power for Alves.

I don't think Fitch vs. Alves provides a clear indication of how this fight will pan out. The new Alves is clearly superior of the old Alves. That being said, game plans, experience, complete ability in all disciplines and performance under pressure all favour GSP right now.

I hope this is a badass fight. I hope GSP takes some abuse but adapts and evolves yet again to this new threat.
MaxTheLimit- June 17, 2009 at 10:41 am
@videodrome: Dontcha remember the standup exchanges in the GSP versus Fitch fight? That had some of the most amazing exchanges I've seen in a GSP fight, and it was only two fights ago.
I already knew GSP was dangerous when in standup against a wrestler, but what that fight really did for me was develop a respect for the heart of John Fitch. He was staggered what, 6-7 times in that fight? Still that tough SOB battled through the barrage and made it to decision.
I would say the weakness of GSP is finishing ability of late. It's a 5 round match and if Alves can last a barrage and keep his wind he could last out long enough to catch GSP in a mistake. It really could happen, but with how focused and diligent GSP has been in his recent fight with his gameplan, I'm not thinking it's going to happen.
I call ground submission...rear naked choke I guess, in the 5th round when Alves runs out of gas, to give GSP the win.
Tyler F. Durden- June 17, 2009 at 10:38 am
Duhrr, I'm "Just A Wrestler. Nice sweeping attack on an entire Province. Such a classic boorish comment from the uneducated, ignorant, drunk MMA fan. Sober up before you post. The Province of Quebec produces some of the world's best fighters, if you had an iota of critical thinking skills, you'd know that. Odds are, given your slovenly, boring posting "Just A Wrestler" and your laziness to type in all-caps only - shows you are likely lacking hygiene and too lazy to bathe - you sir are the dirty pig and likely have a prison record.

GSP will win in a shockingly violent way. If Thiago makes weight, that'll be impressive. Alves is tough. A top ranked, vicious fighter, but he has not fought anyone with the intelligence of GSP, the overall skillset and ability to finish every aspect of the game. Please see Fitch's or BJ's face after their fights for further reference.
Chiggs- June 17, 2009 at 10:37 am
Fuck he his a HUGE WW eh? How the hell does he cut weight without '3rd party' agents??? From 200 to 170?? Mostly muscle mass being dropped just doesnt sound healthy, then again Ive never had to cut weight so what do I know. Im a Fan of GSP but just dont see how he can contend with Alves size, strength and drive. Their both alike in alot of ways in which they both want the best and most and dont have any problems working hard to get it either. Gonna be a fecking awesome showdown imo just too close to call I thinks...
hjdevnull- June 17, 2009 at 10:29 am

hahahahahaha, awesome comment. =)
Sheps- June 17, 2009 at 10:28 am
Congratz man, thats a pretty huge achievement, that would be like writing for The Ring magazine of the MMA world.
Videodrome_NOW- June 17, 2009 at 10:26 am
Is lack of knockout power in your hands considered a weakness. If so, that might be GSP's only weakness. However, ever since he was knocked out by Serra, we haven't seen GSP spend time exchanging with opponents, so it seems that Alves is going to try and force St. Pierre into a stand up fight. Hugghes and Kos may not have been able to take Alves down, but if anyone can we all know it will be George. Hard to pick one, but I would be reall surprised if Alves wins by anything but a decision. We shall see....
frankpickle- June 17, 2009 at 10:25 am
Is it just me or does Alves' head look too big for his body?

Barry Bonds! Barry Bonds! Barry Bonds! Quick someone get Thiago's hat size, I want to know how much his skull has grown since his first UFC fight.

Of course he could then use the tried and true excuse that all pro athletes love to use..."I didn't know" I mean seriously how many grown men just ingest whatever someone hands them, or allow some dude to inject them with a random substance.

On a non cynical note, I think this is going to be a sick fight. I don't think that GSP will have the clear strength advantage he seems to have on most guys at 170, but I think GSP's whole game is just too complete for the Pit bull. Would love to see GSP lose though, so Greg Jackson's camp can give poor GSP's nuts a break for awhile (poor little guys, always people swinging from them).

Titos Head- June 17, 2009 at 10:25 am
Lets just hope its not Canadian bacon in there...