Fitch grapples his way to title shot at UFC 117

In a bout that decided the number one welterweight contender, Jon Fitch beat Thiago Alves 30-27 on all three judges' cards.

The first round was action-packed and dominated by Fitch's takedowns. Though Alves was able to stuff one takedown and reverse position, Fitch, a wrestler for Purdue University, controlled Alves for most of the round.

Between rounds, Fitch told his coaches that Alves felt weak in the clinch. This wasn't surprising, considering Alves' difficulties in cutting weight.

Fitch continued to use his wrestling skills to dominate Alves as the fight moved to the second round. He took Alves to the ground early, and Alves had a hard time fighting Fitch off. Alves had a brief burst of offense at the end of the round, but it wasn't enough.

Alves started off the third and final round with better stand-up, sprawling out of a Fitch takedownand landing strikes. But by the round's halfway mark, Fitch had Alves back on the canvas and had a body triangle sunk in. Fitch continued to pummel Alves until the final minute, when Alves turned in and had another burst of offense.

That little bit of offense was not enough. In his first fight in 13 months, Alves looked weak throughout the bout. Whether it was the weight cut or the long lay off between bouts, Alves did not look like the hard-punching machine that MMA fans are accustomed to seeing.

With this win, Fitch has presumably earned a shot at the welterweight title. His teammate at American Kickboxing Academy, Josh Koscheck, will have the first crack at the champion Georges St. Pierre and the belt in December.

What to Read Next