Thiago Alves may have sat on the sidelines for the past two years, but the “Pitbull” definitely didn’t lose his bite. The Brazilian turned in a terrific performance against a game Seth Baczynski at UFC on Fox 11 and is already itching for another fight.

But how should the UFC handle the popular welterweight fighter?

On one hand, Alves is one of the most recognizable names in not only the welterweight division, but also the UFC as a whole. A mainstay since 2005, Alves has made a career of utilizing devastating Muay Thai skills to take out many a foe in the 170-pound division. His fights tend to be exciting, and it’s fair to say a good amount of MMA fans would tune in any day of the week to see Alves in the cage. He’s also coming off a vintage performance against Baczynski that showed Alves hadn’t lost a step in his time away from the cage.

But then again, prior to UFC on Fox 11, Alves hadn’t won a MMA fight since 2011. Baczynski has also managed to go just 1-3 in his last four fights and hasn’t shown to be much more than a middle-of-the-pack fighter. Alves also has a history of injury and health concerns, which is what kept him out of the sport for such a long time. While he was away, the welterweight division has evolved around him and now features a number of guys that would present match-up problems for the Brazilian.

The top of the division is filled with a number of guys who have the knockout power to threaten Alves on the feet, along with the grappling to win a fight on points. Alves hasn’t always had the best luck with top-heavy wrestlers. Unfortunately for him, many of the top contenders have that weapon in their arsenal.

There’s also the fact of where Alves trains—the vaunted American Top Team in Florida. The Brazilian trains with a number of the top welterweights in the UFC at the moment. Guys like Robbie Lawler, Hector Lombard and Tyron Woodley all call ATT home. Fighting teammates isn’t something anyone wants to do, and it limits the upward movement of Alves through the welterweight rankings.

Still, the UFC is in the business of making money, and fans can expect to see Alves in a feature bout, whether it be on Fox or pay-per-view. The company has years of highlight footage to showcase for Alves, and it’s pretty clear the UFC highly values fighters that raise the excitement level on a card. It’s not like Alves is past his prime, either. At 30 years of age, he has a few good years left in his career. Since he has been sidelined with injuries, he also has the benefit of not enduring the constant wear and tear on the body that comes with being active in MMA. Another added bonus is that Alves speaks fluent English, so the UFC can give him mic time to promote his upcoming fights.

The UFC has options when presenting Alves to UFC fans, but the promotion will probably go the safe route and use him to showcase MMA on free televised cards. That likely means a few mid-level fighters may be next in line, but don’t be surprised to see Alves paired up with another big-name fighter. With his brand of Muay Thai violence, combined with the mindset of always looking for a finish, Alves may not be challenging for the title soon, but he will definitely be a major player in the top 10.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.