Former UFC welterweight title challenger Thiago Alves will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon at UFC on Fox 11–and it couldn’t have been timed any better.
Alves was last seen in March of 2012, where he was submitted by Martin Kampmann in the third round of a fight he was winning. A multitude of injuries have kept Alves out of competition since then, but his return is shaping up to be perfectly timed.
The UFC Welterweight division is currently wide open. Sure, guys like Rory MacDonald, Tyron Woodley, Hector Lombard, and Robbie Lawler are ahead of Alves to get a title shot, but Alves’ fan favorite fighting style only leaves him about two to three wins away from a title shot.
Also working in Alves’ favor is the fact that he has some of the best striking in all of mixed martial arts. Alves can put a striking clinic on anyone. Take a look at his two decision wins over John Howard and Josh Koscheck. Both fighters are, at the bare minimum, serviceable strikers. Howard is a muay thai specialist and one of the hardest punches in the division. When he fought Alves, he was unable to do anything significant in the striking department. When I spoke with Howard after the loss he complimented Alves’ striking technique, stating that it was some of the best “he’s ever seen.”
While the prospects of Alves challenging Johny Hendricks or any other top welterweight for UFC gold are intriguing, Alves has to get through Seth Baczynski first. Baczynksi lacks name recognition, but is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. After a stint on the Ultimate Fighter 11, Baczynski dropped to welterweight and quickly ascended up the ranks with victories over the likes of Matt Brown and Alex Garcia. If Alves will be in serious trouble if he takes Baczynksi lightly.
The bottom line is that the UFC is better when Alves is competing. With the welterweight division wide open, Alves could make a tremendous run and accomplish what many predicted he would: Win a UFC Championship.
Alves’ return to title contention starts at UFC on Fox 11.
For all of your UFC on Fox coverage, visit SciFighting.com.