“I never would have dreamed it, you know, when I did commentary for the first one it was like 1997, UFC 12, and it was in Dothan, Alabama, and it was this tiny little arena, you know, and it was real weird and nobody knew what was going on and everybody would yell ‘gay’ as soon as it went to the ground and to see it now where it is, I mean, it’s fucking, it’s just incredible. I never would have believed it.”
Those are the words of Joe Rogan in an interview with RawVegas.tv last Saturday night, reflecting upon where the UFC has come from and where it is now. To say that UFC 100 is going to be the crown jewel of all UFC PPV events would be an understatement. This PPV is loaded with major, major star power and super fights. Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir will fight for the UFC Heavyweight title; Georges St. Pierre defends the UFC Welterweight title against Thiago Alves; and Michael Bisping takes on Dan Henderson in a battle of TUF 9 coaches.
While the media focus will be squarely on Lesnar vs. Mir and on Henderson vs. Bisping due to the heavy UK press Bisping receives, the St. Pierre/Alves fight is the fight that you should keep your eye on the most. St. Pierre is such a dominant fighter in his weight class, but he is facing a man who is a tremendous puncher in Alves.
When UFC aired their Ultimate Fighter Finale show last Saturday, Dana White and Joe Rogan were already into hype mode for UFC 100. Who wouldn’t be, given what an exciting card it is? Unfortunately (or fortunately) for UFC, Clay Guida and Diego Sanchez had such a fantastic fight that there was little time given to hyping up UFC 100.
Dana White made the case recently for why fans should think Thiago Alves has a chance of beating UFC’s Welterweight champion.
“Thiago Alves is a kid, another kid who’s been in the UFC for a long time, has been working on his game, gets better and better, really came in as a pure striker. He was better at striking and he has some jiu-jitsu, but his wrestling was terrible. Well, obviously this kid has been working on his wrestling a lot, Matt Hughes couldn’t take him down once and after he beat Matt Hughes that definitely put him in line for a title shot and one of the interesting things about him that I always talk about is how big this guy is. For him to be able to fight at 170 pounds and he walks around at 200, 200 plus, and he cuts down to 170 and can still keep his strength and his endurance and his agility, you know, it’s amazing. This is definitely going to be the toughest test of Georges St. Pierre’s career. And for a kid like Thiago, for him to come him and take the title away from a guy like Georges St. Pierre who many people regard as one of the not only one of the best in the world but one of the best pound-for-pound in the world, this is really going to put Thiago Alves on the map and change his entire life if he can pull off this win.”
Alves beat Hughes in a very controversial fight in London. Alves showed up way over the weight limit and as a result, Hughes felt pressure to accept the fight. It was a mistake, as Alves overpowered Hughes throughout the fight. It ended up being such a dominant performance that Kevin Iole started whispering about Hughes needing to retirement, which was completely ridiculous talk.
Most fans think St. Pierre will retain his Welterweight belt by beating Alves on July 11th. Dana White summarized the challenge at hand for Alves going into the fight during a recent UFC 100 media promo clip:
“Georges St. Pierre, obviously, been in the UFC for a long time, uh, huge, huge fan favorite, people love this kid. He’s got a ton of charisma, he’s probably the most athletic guy in Mixed Martial Arts. Every time he fights he gets better and better and realistically right now I have him up there at the top of the list, #1 or #2 pound-for-pound best fighters in the world had he not had that loss to Matt Serra. But since the Serra fight obviously came back and avenged that loss. Came back and had a controversial split decision he won over BJ Penn. He came back and annihilated BJ Penn and this kid is doing all the right things to not only become pound-for-pound best fighter in the world but you know cementing his legacy as probably he could end up being the greatest Welterweight ever and one of the greatest champions ever in UFC history.
The big test for him now you know you look at him beating talented guy like BJ Penn and all the other guys in the 170 pound division but what people don’t realize this next fight against Thiago is definitely the biggest test and the biggest challenge of his career because this kid is a 185 pounds moving down to 170. I don’t even know how this kid makes 170. When Thiago’s like on the offseason and not training for a fight, when he walks around he looks like Rashad (Evans) or Rampage, he looks big when you see this kid and he makes it down to 170 pounds, this kid has unbelievable striking and the scary part about him right now is that he has incredible takedown defense. Matt Hughes could not take him down.
But, um, one of the things that everybody talks about with Georges St. Pierre, he’s the wrestler killer man. This kid has worked on his wrestling and has become a phenomenal wrestler himself. If you look at all the great wrestlers that he’s fought in the UFC from Matt Hughes to Josh Koscheck to Sean Sherk and the list goes on and on, he takes them down at will. He takes them down whenever he wants to. So, uh, I find it hard to believe that Thiago Alves will be able to shrug off Georges St. Pierre’s takedown attempts, but you know you never know what’s going to happen in a fight and this kid is strong as strong can be.”
If you believe in a puncher’s chance when it comes to an MMA fight, then obviously Alves is a guy who you might be focusing on. After all, people said that Brett Rogers ‘only’ had a puncher’s chance against Andrei Arlovski and Mr. Rogers dispatched Arlovski out of his neighborhood in 22 seconds earlier this month.
Joe Rogan, in comments he made last Saturday to RawVegas.tv, believes that Alves is going to give St. Pierre all that he can handle in the stand-up game.
“That’s an amazing fight and really the first time Georges St. Pierre’s [fighting] a real striker. My opinion, Alves is the most dangerous stand-up fighter he’s ever fought. And then if you get a look at Alves’ last fight or the fight with Josh Koscheck, how good his takedown defense was, I mean it was just outstanding. The Hughes fight he got taken down but you know first of all Matt Hughes is a beast and second of all, he’s supposedly had an injured ankle which is why he couldn’t make weight for that fight. He was 176, you remember they had a fight at a catch weight and he looked gigantic. I mean It was because he couldn’t do any running, apparently. So, if you factor that into it man he’s a dangerous, dangerous opponent, you know.
I mean, and then you gotta think about the only time that GSP’s really been beat down was by Matt Serra, you know, Matt Serra caught him with a big punch and then went after him. Now, we don’t usually see him get hit that much, you know, I mean, when Georges fought like his last couple of fights his boxing has looked so good like the BJ fight, the way he wore BJ down first which was very, very smart, good strategy, but his boxing just looks so crisp, his stand-up looks excellent, and it’s not really getting hit. But a guy like Alves might hit him, you know, and then what happens?”
For the next couple of weeks, the hype sessions in the media for UFC 100 will continue to grow in volume. There will be a lot of expectations in terms of how many buys this show draws on PPV. In this bad economy, if UFC can draw 750,000 or more, consider this show a major success. All signs point to a huge July 11th weekend for Zuffa.