Will Paulo Thiago Be Rushed Into a UFC Title Shot Against Georges St Pierre?

Thiago talks to Tatame.com after his UFC 109 deconstruction of Mike Swick:

Do you think about the belt?

I'm not worry about it yet. On the right time UFC will give me the chance. I'm getting experience, feeling more comfortable. I'm not ready yet.

What is need to beat St. Pierre?

St. Pierre is very smart, it's going to be a chess game. Who gets calmer to annul the game of the other, takes it. He works a lot the takedown defense, the ground, the guard... You have to exchange with him, be aggressive. There are a lot of ways to study.

But despite his protestations to the contrary, Michael David Smith thinks that Thiago will be fighting for the title, barring a Dan Hardy upset of GSP:

But while Thiago views St. Pierre as a bigger challenge than he's prepared for, he might not have a choice. UFC President Dana White mentioned Thiago as a welterweight contender during a question-and-answer session with fans in Sydney, Australia, last week, and really, who else is there for the UFC to give GSP?

If St. Pierre beats Dan Hardy at UFC 111 next month, he'll have defeated all of the UFC's top welterweights other than Thiago. At that point, the UFC might need to throw Thiago in with St. Pierre simply because there's no one else to contend for the title.

My best bet: If Hardy upsets GSP, the winner of the Thiago Alves-Jon Fitch UFC 111 fight will get the first crack at Hardy. But if, as expected, GSP beats Hardy, Thiago would be the next man up, whether he thinks he's ready or not.

Personally, I think that GSP will likely face the winner of the Alves-Fitch fight before Thiago gets the title shot. GSP might have mauled both Alves and Fitch already, but either one of them is a more marketable challenger than Thiago, particularly if Alves or Fitch win in spectacular fashion.

Let's not forget that Fitch has already beaten Alves and done it in a really brutal fashion. In their 2006 bout, Fitch took Alves down and inflicted a beating against the cage that left Alves battered, bloody and utterly beaten. It was reminiscent of the beating that Randy Couture gave Vitor Belfort in their rubber match. Alves is much larger and his take down defense has improved dramatically since 2006, but I think either fighter stands a chance at winning dramatically enough to earn a second bite at GSP.

As for Thiago, I think he'll get the winner of Josh Koscheck vs Paul Daley and the winner of that will be next in line. And if he game plans for that fight as well as he did against Swick, he has an excellent chance of getting that title shot. Here's more from Tatame about that fight and how he beat the AKA fighter:

What did you expect for this fight?

We knew he's aggressive, so we trained a lot to catch him coming. And it worked. He hit me one, I gave two steps back and he thought I had felt the punch and came, but I hit him twice and he fell on triangle position, so it was easier.

Thiago's days as a fluke are over. It's time to take him seriously in the UFC welterweight division.

-- photo via ufc.com

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