After Thiago Alves once again failed to make weight for his welterweight fight at UFC 117 Dana White is now putting pressure on the fighter to make the move up to middleweight. In this article we look at the positives and negatives of such a move for the talented Brazilian.
1. After losing handily to both GSP and Jon Fitch (for a second time), Alves chance of a title shot at 170lbs have now diminished considerably. Therefore the timing seems right for a fresh start at middleweight.
2. Wrestlers who are able to stifle his striking advantage have become Alves nemesis, and the welterweight division is stacked with them. From GSP and Fitch to Josh Koscheck and now Jake Shields, there’s no getting away from highly skilled grappler’s at the top of the ladder, but middleweight has a different balance and Alves should benefit from that.
3. From the UFC’s perspective Alves could help liven up the 185lb division which isn’t particularly stacked at this moment in time and could use fresh challengers. Alves presence would open up plenty of new match-ups in the middle to upper reaches of the weight class.
4. No more concerns over Alves not making weight. That’s good for the promotion who won’t have to switch to ‘catchweight’ bouts at short notice, good for his opponents who won’t have to deal with an oversized Alves, and good for the fighter himself since he won’t continually have to give up 20% of his purse.
5. The weight cut to 170lbs must surely be taking it’s toll on Alves body. That’s not good for his long term future, and in the short term it’s only reasonable to assume it’s having an effect on his performance in the cage.
1. At 5ft 9″ and with a reach of 70″, Alves frame is still best suited to 170lbs. At middleweight he’d regularly be facing 6ft+ fighters with a significant reach advantage.
2. At welterweight Alves extreme weight cutting practices have meant that by fight night he’s often much heavier than his opponents. He won’t hold such an advantage at middleweight however where fighters like Anderson Silva are much bigger and can comfortably fight at light-heavyweight when required.
3. In the 170lb division Alves was one of the top dogs, always within touching distance of the title, but at 185lbs he’ll have to work his way up from the middle of the pack, though a good win or two under his belt could fast-track his climb up the ladder.
4. Though it’s not a major concern, the potential downside to the move for the UFC would be that it leaves the upper reaches of the welterweight division looking very top heavy with wrestlers.
I think the time is right for Alves to move to middleweight, but it’s certainly a decision that would have risks attached to it. The fighter himself appears to be well aware of that fact as he’s been resistant to the move so far, and the rumors emerging from the aftermath of UFC 117 suggest that he is still aiming to remain at 170lbs.
With Dana White having publicly declared his feelings on the matter, and believed to also have the backing of matchmaker Joe Silva, it’s surely only a matter of time before we see ‘Pitbull’ competing in the 185lb weight class.