Comfortably making the 171lb limit on this occasion, Thiago Alves looked to prove he’s still a force at welterweight tonight at against John Howard at UFC 124.

In the first round Alves looked to be back to his best, catching Howard cleanly with punches and vicious leg kicks early which forced his opponent to look for a takedown, but the Brazilian stuffed it. Surprisingly he then took him down instead with a good throw, but after a brief spell on top Howard worked his way back to his feet.

Alves continued to be the aggressor in the stand-up though, showing his full range of muay thai skills, including knees from the clinch and in particular more of those nasty leg kicks which were already beginning to take their toll as the round drew to a close.

The second continued in much the same vein as the first with Alves showing himself to be the much more technical striker while Howard resorted to throwing wild flurries in return. His mobility was also clearly being affected as the leg kicks mounted up. Showing that he’s more than just a striker Alves also produced another powerful takedown and ended the round looking dominant from top control.

Alves looked very fresh coming out for the final round but didn’t go out all guns blazing, preferring to bait Howard in and countering him well. It’s a strategy that paid off halfway through the round when a perfectly timed right hand floored ‘Doomsday’ momentarily. Credit to Howard for continuing to press forward but Alves was outclassing him and finished strongly with more damaging strikes.

This was a great showcase for Alves stand-up skills and he deservedly picked up a unanimous decision (30-27 x3) victory on the judges scorecards. As far as striking goes he’s undoubtedly still the cream of the crop at 170lbs in the UFC, and with his weight issues seemingly now back under control he can once again look to mount a challenge in the upper reaches of the weight class.

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