The Georges St. Pierre-Thiago Alves fight is a bit overshadowed right now by Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir in the lead up to UFC 100. It was bound to happen. The trash talk between the two Americans is hard to compete with and there's a lure about 250-260 beasts going at it. But the GSP-Alves UFC welterweight title fight will probably turn out to be a better, more technical fight. Fox Fight Game's Mike Straka does a great job, in videos with both GSP trainers Greg Jackson and Firas Zahabi, of getting the juices flowing with some strategy breakdown.
Casual and non-MMA fights should watch these conversations to get a little more knowledge of how technical the sport can be. Jackson is the master of the gameplan but he says that you can't enter the Octagon with an inflexible blue print (2:16 mark):
"We have a structure. These are things you want to do, these are the things you don't want to do. Within that structure the artist has to work."
Artist? Isn't this human cockfighting? Artists don't barroom brawl.
Jackson used the B.J. Penn fight at UFC 94 as an example where the gameplan was to fire away at what the Hawaiian thought was his advantage, his kickboxing. Jackson said when Penn realized he couldn't win the fight with any style, he mentally broke.
Jackson calls it finding and attacking the opponent's safety zone. What does Alves fall back on when things are starting to crack? Jackson turned down the chance to pinpoint Alves' safety zone, but he did say GSP and company think that Alves' left hook and left knee are the biggest things to stay away from. Those are his fight changers.
Zahabi, who anchors the training in Montreal at Tristar Gym, is not one who lacks for confidence. He talked a lot of trash before the Penn fight during the UFC 94 Countdown mini-series. In the second video, it sounds like Zahabi is questioning the acumen of the opposing gameplanners, American Top Team.
He says Alves only presents one challenge and that's on the feet with his kickboxing. GSP comes at you with several attacks (1:30 mark):
"That's our strength that we do everything. I always tell George, the day a guy can predict what we're going to do is the day we're going to lose. He's gotta be like that ball on the roulette table, no one knows where it's going to land."
Alves may be the most powerfully built 170-pounder in the world, so St. Pierre is going to let the Brazilian use his bulk against himself (2:40 mark):
"There are ways to fight strong, explosive guys. If we take him down, we're going to allow gravity to do the work. We're not going to go force to force. We're going to allow our body weight to drain Thiago's energy. Any good jiu-jitsu guy is not going to use force to force. We're going to be laying on him, forcing him to use lots of energy to get up. Once he realizes he can't get up it's going to break his will."
Zahabi says Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes never saw the Alves' kick and knee game coming and that they didn't train against enough muay thai specialists.