Thiago Alves is widely ranked amongst the sports best in the welterweight division. Come Saturday night, Alves will test himself and aim to keep his top-tier status when he takes on John "Doomsday" Howard at UFC 124 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Currently, Alves is on a two-fight skid after back-to-back losses to current welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre and the highly ranked Jon Fitch.
So with those losses and a worthy adversary on Saturday, will Thiago Alves ever wear UFC gold?
My answer is yes, if Alves can mix up his attack and if St-Pierre seriously moves up in weight.
I believe the fight against Jon Fitch was not Alves like we usually see him, and that the 13-month layoff effected Alves's performance. As for the fight against St-Pierre, while Alves did lose, nobody has gotten back to their feet as often as Alves did when St-Pierre put him on his back, and I believe Alves became to weary of the takedown and was truly passive.
Alves showed in his fights with Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck that he has shown signs of great takedown defense, and also Alves has the best Muay Thai in the UFC's welterweight division.
I admit I am biased in this case, but I believe that Alves has true potential to one day capture the UFC welterweight title, but it's a matter of him putting it together.
If Alves is to move forward and capture the title though, Alves has to fight less one-dimensional and mix up his Muay Thai with takedowns and submission attempts, otherwise his opponents will only have to focus on being better than him in one area.
If Alves continues rounding out his skills and fights on a more regular basis, I believe he will work himself back into title contention by the end of 2011. However, he must dominate John Howard first.
Howard is the perfect opponent for Alves to get back into his winning ways because Howard is a wild striker who fights with reckless abandon, and Alves is far more technical.
If Alves were to fail here, I would have to say that Alves will need to reevaluate himself and put his dreams of ever capturing UFC gold way far back in his mind.