The UFC heads to Fortaleza, Brazil, this weekend for what should be a good betting card. In the welterweight division, Max Griffin and Thiago Alves clash for the opportunity to get a number next to their name in the near future.
The savage kickboxer known as “Pitbull” has been around the block. Now 35-years-of-age, he’s fought some of the most renowned welterweights of all time, including Georges St-Pierre, Carlos Condit and Matt Hughes.
Now in the later stages of his career, all the mileage looks to be catching up to him. Athletically, I believe he’s lost a step and his physique looks noticeably different from when he was younger (particularly his traps and shoulders). Perhaps he’s not eating as many protein bars these days?
Still, he’s a skilled striker and is a threat for anyone who wants to stand with him. In his last contest, I feel he deserved the decision against Russian prospect, Alexander Kunchenko, but was never likely to get the nod as the away fighter. In that bout, Alves found success with his low kicks – but Kunchenko is the type of fighter who enjoys working at mid-range and will stand in front of you. He won’t have that luxury against a more elusive opponent this time.
A well-rounded fighter, Max Griffin is primarily known for his boxing centric attack and lateral movement. Against Mike Perry, a plodding opponent with a more compact body type, Griffin was able to maximize his reach advantage with beautiful straight punches and get out of harm’s way before Perry could return fire (for two rounds at least). Griffin will have a 6-inch reach advantage over Alves and I believe he’ll deploy a similar strategy here.
Although Griffin is only two years younger than Alves, he’s a hell of a lot younger in fight years. I think the hand speed advantage will look dramatic as Griffin starts to land early and often.
Here is the thing though, given that Griffin is so mobile we’ve seen him slow down later in fights. Looking at his Instagram, it seems like he cuts a lot of weight to make welterweight and I wonder if this could also a factor in him fading late? We saw Griffin shoot takedowns against Curtis Millender and he may do it again here, but I think the range game is where he’ll have his most success.
Given that standing directly in front of Alves is perilous, it’s up to Griffin to stay on his bicycle and fight long. Will he be able to do this for three rounds or score a knockout? Perhaps. I certainly think he can do it for two rounds before he starts to tire – although the arena is apparently going to be very humid so this could impact the cardio of fighters.
As the Fortaleza native, it’s possible Alves rolls back the years and puts on a performance for his home crowd – but I think this is an unfavorable match-up for him. I wish the price was more generous because I’m quite confident in Max Griffin here.
Pick: Max Griffin -210
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