UFC Welterweight bout: Thiago Alves vs. John Howard
Betting Pick: Alves
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In the opening bout of the televised card, Thiago Alves will look to right his ship after two tough decision losses against skilled veteran John Howard. Alves is one of the best strikers in the division and has good takedown defense, but has missed weight recently and looked lethargic in his fights. Howard has some good wrestling and punching power, so if Alves is off his game he could be in trouble.
John Howard, who went 4-1 in his first five fights in the UFC, is a very tough guy who is pretty decent at everything but isn’t great at anything. Early in his career he showed some solid submission skills, but for the last few years he has been depending on punching, takedowns, and ground and pound to get the job done. Against Alves he is going to have to try to force a ground fight, because in a kickboxing match he will get destroyed.
Alves, the world’s third-ranked Middleweight, has extremely effective and powerful Muay Thai and can overwhelm opponents from range or in the clinch. He doesn’t have much of an offensive ground game, but his takedown and submission defense are both top-notch. In a standup fight he will crush Howard, so as long as he can stay upright and not gas out, he is in a good position to win this fight easily.
I think Alves is just way more than Howard is capable of handling. On the feet this will be a total mismatch, and Howard doesn’t have dominant enough wrestling to overcome Alves’ excellent takedown defense. Howard will get stuck in a standup fight, picked apart, and eventually T/KO’ed.
Prediction: Thiago “Pitbull” Alves via first round T/KO.