Let me start by getting a couple of the obvious points out of the way first:
- I'm not going to stop talking about UFC 100 for the next seven days.
- The UFC has to promote every fight with one of their biggest stars as their "toughest test to date" in the same way that you love the man or woman you're with right now more than anyone you've ever loved in your life before...wink wink.
- In part, this is a social experiment to see if all the rabid GSP fans here on Bleacher Report will jump all over this post.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?
With UFC 100 next on the schedule, the promo pieces are everywhere these days, including being shown 497 times during the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter. Trust me, I counted.
As I mentioned in point No. 2, I know there is a portion of the billing that is obligatory; you're not going to build up a fight like this as Georges St-Pierre faces an easier challenge than he has as of late when he takes on Thiago "The Pit Bull" Alves. I get that.
But here's the rub: In pushing Alves, the UFC is referencing his "demolition" of Matt Hughes. Once again, some of this is understandable as Matt Hughes is a much more widely known name than Alves' actual last victim, Josh Koscheck, and it's not like Alves ran through vintage Matt Hughes.
The Matt Hughes Alves beat was the same guy that eeked out a decision over Matt Serra a couple months back, and beating that guy isn't as big an accomplishment as the UFC Marketing & Publicity department would like you to believe.
Here is where we start to have a little fun. Just so people don't start calling me a homer and thinking that I'm firmly planted on Team GSP for this fight simply because he and I have the same home and native land, the main person of reference in all this will be Thiago Alves himself.
While I could certainly just bring up names of St-Pierre's record, going back through Alves' fights and analyzing them on their own and in reference to GSP's performance against the same opponent will be more unbiased. Or at least that's what I'll tell myself and all of you for right now.
Alves and Kos fought back in October with "The Pit Bull" earning a unanimous decision over the TUF 1 alum. While Alves clearly dominated the fight from bell to bell, it should be noted that Koscheck stepped in and took this fight on short notice when Diego Sanchez got injured during training.
While the short notice change of opponent changes things for Alves, I'm one of those people who believes that the guy who has been training for an extended period regardless of opponent should always come out on top of the guy who just got the call a couple weeks ago.
All that being said, when GSP made his return to the ring after losing his welterweight belt to Matt Serra, it was Koscheck that he faced and the two went the distance as well, with GSP earning the same unanimous decision that Alves would later earn.
That makes Josh Koscheck a push.
I've already stated that this wasn't the Matt Hughes who dominated the welterweight division for all those years. Personally, this was the fight where I knew without a doubt that Matt Hughes should be hanging them up and heading back to the farm.
Alves definitely clobbered Hughes with a sick flying knee, but again, there is a wrinkle. Alves failed to make weight for this fight, and while it wasn't like he came in weighing 220 or anything like that (he weighted 174), the energy and strength that Alves didn't have to expend cutting those final, most difficult, few pounds is something that can easily impact a fight.
Hughes is an interesting opponent when it comes to GSP because the two have had three fights, with St-Pierre holding a 2-1 edge and back-to-back wins. While the second victory came only six months prior to Hughes loss to Alves, the first win came in November 2006, when Matt Hughes was still Matt Hughes.
"The Pit Bull" smashed St-Pierre's current teammate and training partner when they met at UFC Fight Night 13, securing a stoppage in the early stages of the second round due to strikes. While I'm not a big Karo Parisyan fan, the guy is a solid opponent for anyone at 170, and Alves steamrolled him in impressive fashion.
On the other hand, GSP earned a unanimous decision victory over "The Heat" when he made his debut with the organization back at UFC 46. Normally, this is where I would go on about how much more evolved GSP is as a fighter now and whatever and whatever to make my case, but we're using Alves as the template, and he had the more impressive win.
This is the one that people (like myself) will use as the measuring stick for this fight. Alves and Fitch met back at Fight Night 5 in June 2006 when they were both starting to climb the ranks of the welterweight division.
Fitch took the win, stopping Alves in the second round. Here, too, I could play the "he's come a long way since then card," but results are results and we're looking at results.
As we all know, St-Pierre put an end to Fitch's UFC winning streak last August with a thoroughly dominating performance, although he wasn't able to put away the former Purdue Boilermaker. Still, with scores of 50-43, 50-44, and 50-44, it's clear to see how lopsided this one was.
Now that we're through with the similar opponents—where GSP has a 2-1 edge with one Josh Koscheck push—it must be acknowledged that both of these fighters have evolved and come a long way from earlier fights. If Alves were to step into the ring with Jon Fitch again, I truly believe the outcome would be very different, just as it would if GSP and Parisyan mixed it up again.
As much as I would love to sit here and cite GSP's battles with vintage Matt Hughes, two wins over B.J. Penn, and the domination of Jon Fitch as clear examples of why he should have less of a problem with Thiago Alves on July 11, I just can't bring myself to do it.
Penn never did and never will have any business fighting in any weight class except lightweight. I know he wants to test himself against the best and avenge being "robbed" the first time out against St-Pierre and whatever, but the dude is lightweight, and if GSP didn't pound the bejesus out of him the way he did at UFC 94, I would have been shocked.
I already stated my belief that Alves-Fitch 2 would go differently than Alves-Fitch 1 turned out, so that crosses him off the list, too, and while the extra weight and declining skills of Matt Hughes certainly worked in Alves' favor, he really did lay a beatin' on the old farm boy that night in London, only to follow it up with an even more impressive performance against Josh Koscheck.
Truth be told, when I started writing this piece I didn't think this was the conclusion I would come to. I actually made the "Alves lost to Jon Fitch" argument last night at work, but in looking back at things and being realistic and objective, there is only one conclusion that I can stand behind without wavering:
Thiago Alves IS the toughest test to date for Georges St-Pierre and the welterweight champion better be prepared.
Originally posted at Watch Kalib Run by E. Spencer Kyte