According to UFC.com, former UFC welterweight contender Thiago Alves (23-7) is tapped to face Swedish prospect Papy Abedi, the #1-ranked middleweight fighter on the 2011 World MMA Scouting Report, at UFC 138 on November 5th in Birmingham, England. Abedi is currently undefeated at 8-0, finishing seven of his eight opponents within the confines of the 185 lb. weight class. The contest at UFC 138 will be Abedi's first weight cut down to 170 lbs., creating some concern whether he'll be able to make the cut and maintain his brute strength.
Alves is currently 1-3 in his last 4 appearances inside the Octagon, although his loss column may be a bit deceiving to the untrained eye. Alves was crushed by current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 100 in July of 2009, losing unanimously on the scorecards in a dominant wrestling performance by the champ. Alves suffered a knee injury and a brain injury scare as an arteriovenous malformation was found in his brain in the lead-up to a bout with Jon Fitch at UFC 111 in March of last year. Both injuries combined assisted in sidelining the former contender for over one year.
Alves returned in August, dropping an unanimous decision to Jon Fitch after coming in a half-pound overweight. Four months later, he was able to get back in the win column with an unanimous decision victory over John Howard at UFC 124, but a streak didn't come to fruition as blue-chip wrestler Rick Story grinded out the Brazilian Muay Thai striker at UFC 130 on May 28th.
While Abedi is a Judo black belt who possesses incredible strength, it's difficult to believe he'll be ready for such a high-caliber striker like Alves. Abedi isn't the type of fighter to use those Judo skills to his advantage. He's far more prone to using his brute strength to slam opponents to the floor, which might come in handy if Abedi can output the type of cardio that Rick Story put on display at UFC 130. Unfortunately, he has issues in that area as well.
Abedi has the skills the make this a true challenge for the former contender, but unless massive improvements have been taking place at his home in Sweden -- it's tough not to see this bout as a favor for Alves. Abedi is a major x-factor however, combining brutal power and proven finishing ability. This could turn into a real treat and shock to many fans.