Rick Story vs. Thiago Alves: Round 1
Story gets Alves doubled over and pinned against the cage, where the American drills knees into Alves’ thigh. Strong waist lock for Story, who continues to assault with the knees as Alves has nowhere to go. Now Alves puts Story on the front side and trips him down, but Story whips right around and back to his feet. The crowd cheers the first two minutes of heavy action. Story comes forward, winging punches and backing Alves into the fence before changing levels. Alves defends the double leg and the welterweights pummel for control with over-unders. Story knees to the inside thigh; Alves punches short shots to the body. Referee Kim Winslow splits them up with two minutes on the clock. Story wings combos, but an Alves knee to the gut seems to make the wrestler think better of the exchange. He whips Alves into the fence and doubles over, but again is stuffed. Story takes a step back and unloads with a half-dozen hard punches, two or three of which find their marks. Alves ties back up and then shoves Story off. They clinch and Story comes with knees up the gut.
Round 2: Story lands a glancing head kick and snaps Alves’ head back with a right hand. The wrestler goes low, can’t find a takedown and settles for a waist lock. Alves puts his back to the cage and gets an underhook to shove Story away. Another takedown attempt from Story appears to stall out at the fence, but a second effort finds Alves on his back. The Brazilian pops right back up and trips Story to the canvas, quickly advancing to half-guard. Story powers his way out and stands, placing Alves’ back on a cagepost. Story leans his full weight on Alves, stifling any potential offense from the striker. Story goes back to his thigh-kneeing of the first frame before the pair is split again by Winslow. Alves slips on a kick and simultaneously eats a punch to the gut. As he gets back up, Story rushes him and throws his arms around Alves’ waist, eliciting boos from the audience. Wild exchanges end the round with neither man landing much of significance.
Round 3: It’s a firefight in the early going, both men winging punches in close quarters. Alves gets off a few hard ones, then a knee, and suddenly Story’s pace slows. A weak single-leg attempt follows; this time, Alves doesn’t take long to shuck Story off. Story keeps pressing forward, though, throwing to body and head before going for another single. No takedown for Story. Alves comes over the top with a crisp left hook that jacks Story’s jaw. Alves stuffs another single from Story, puts Story’s back on the cage and shoves off with double underhooks. Alves just trying to keep his distance now, sidestepping every time Story comes forward. Alves with a one-two, an uppercut, another left; Story lands a right hand of his own and tries again in vain to bring the fight to the floor. Alves puts a right straight on Story’s nose and wilts him with a knee. Story ties up with 40 seconds to go, but Alves breaks free. He smacks a right high kick off the side of Story’s face. Story goes wild with punches in the waning seconds, but Alves does, too, and the Brazilian’s strikes land cleaner to the final horn.
Official scores: All three judges have it 29-28 in favor of the winner by unanimous decision, Rick Story.