UFC 130 takes place this Saturday, May 28, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Thousands of fans will swarm Las Vegas to be entertained by mixed martial arts action.
One sure-fire entertaining fight will be the welterweight matchup between Thiago "The Pitbull" Alves and Rick "The Horror" Story.
Alves, a seasoned veteran inside the famed octagon when compared to Story, has a UFC record of 10-4 with victories over some of the division's best including Josh Koscheck, Chris Lytle, and Matt Hughes.
Outside of an earlier career defeat to Spencer Fischer, Alves' only three losses inside the Octagon have been to the top two welterweight fighters including Jon Fitch (twice), and current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
A Muay-thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, Alves is known for his ability to adjust angles and planes during his strikes and chop down opponents with vicious leg kicks.
With an affinity to stand and trade inside the Octagon, Alves typically looks for a knockout victory first before earning a submission win.
Opposing Alves this Saturday is the up-and-coming star within the division, Rick Story.
With a UFC record of 5-1, Story has already earned two bonus awards including a Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night honors against Brian Foster at UFC 103.
A tremendously gifted striker, "The Horror" is diligent inside the cage working various striking angles and completing combinations with savage destruction to his opponents' bodies.
Not quite possessing the overall skill-set as Alves, Story will attempt to match "The Pitbull" will ferocity and non-traditional striking patterns to keep Alves off balance and out of his rhythm.
For Alves to earn a victory against Story, two factors must come into play.
First, historically speaking, Thiago Alves has had issues with the weight cut needed to make the 170 pound ceiling within the welterweight division.
Prior to Alves's last fight against John Howard, "The Pitbull" was prone to suffering a cardiovascular deficit during his fights, minimizing his conditioning resulting in a loss of power and overall mobility inside the Octagon.
However, the changes made to his diet prescribed by a nutritionist hired by Alves's camp enabled Thiago to perform a striking clinic against John Howard, earning "The Pitbull" a unanimous decision victory at UFC 124.
If Alves properly cuts the necessary weight and is not directly impacted by the loss of pounds, he will possess the needed conditioning to fight Rick Story for a potential three round battle.
Additionally, Alves will not suffer any power or movement deficits typically resulting from an extreme drop in body weight.
The second factor that Thiago Alves could utilize to his advantage is his black belt in jiu-jitsu.
Rarely do we see "The Pitbull" capitalize on his tremendous ground game due to his affinity to stand and trade in the Muay-thai discipline.
However, Rick Story has a wrestling background and if rocked, may resort to his instincts and take this fight to the ground.
If he does, Alves could maximize his black belt in BJJ and work for a dominant position and unload ferocious ground-and-pound, or attempt to lock up a submission victory.
Very improbable that Alves will be looking for a tapout win, I know. However, in the deep waters of the UFC welterweight division where there are many big fish, a win is critical in stepping one step closer to a re-match with Georges St-Pierre for Alves.
If Alves does not suffer from the weight cut and has the ability to maximize his advantage in the ground game against Story, I believe that those two factors coupled with his excellent stand-up skills will prove to be the difference in Alves being the victor this weekend.
This welterweight clash between Thiago Alves and Rick Story has the potential of earning Fight of the Night honors and stealing the thunder from the night's main events.
Do not blink or get up for snacks as these two heavy-handed strikers will surely go toe to toe in the center of the Octagon or you may miss a sensational striking exhibition take place this Saturday.
Enjoy the fights.
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