When Josh Wick and Thiago Alves step into the cage at CenturyLink Arena on February 24th at Front Street Fights 11, presented by Bodybuilding.com, it will mark the first ever meeting between the two fighters. That doesn’t mean that this bout hasn’t been on Wick’s radar for a long time.
Wick, a Kuna native and former regular at SBGi/Combat Fitness in Boise, was in attendance to see his former coach and teammate Jesse Brock tangle with Alves in 2013 at Rage in the Cage VII, with Brock earning a second-round TKO victory. Wick was a bit more involved the next time he and Alves crossed paths, this time serving as a corner-man for Kerry Lattimer when he beat Alves by unanimous decision in 2014 at SteelFist Fight Night XXIV.
When watching Brock and working with Lattimer, Wick knew Alves would be a good opponent for him as well.
“I’ve been prepared to fight him for many years. I always thought it would be a good fight,” said Wick, who now trains in Colorado with Elevation Fight Team. “I remember when I cornered Kerry when he fought against Alves, and Kerry was a huge underdog in that fight but I helped corner him to a victory. I was able to talk Kerry through some submission defenses that helped get him to the win.”
“Alves is a strong jiu-jitsu black-belt but I’m a stronger wrestler than he is. I’m going to be able to dictate this fight and pick all my angles and shots.”
Finding the right attack angles during the fight, an important aspect of the stand-up game, is an area where Wick feels his overall skill-set has dramatically improved in the last year. Wick believes his grappling game was on point because of the heavy focus placed on that element at SBGi/Combat Fitness. To improve his striking, Wick went to train in one of the sport’s prominent striking programs.
“I beat (Vince) Morales (at FSF6) and I knew there were a lot of things I needed to work on as far as my angles and my overall stand-up fighting,” said Wick. “One of my buddies opened up to me that a lot of fighters were moving to Colorado for a number of reasons. The elevation is high and it’s good for training, but also (Elevation Fight Team) has Duane “Bang” Ludwig and they have all these great strikers. It’s mostly a striking and wrestling-based school.”
With a spot open for him in, Wick decided to give it a try. After just a short time training, Wick saw tangible results.
“The first time we came out was about a year and a half ago and we learned a lot. I felt like I had almost doubled my skill set in about a week,” said Wick. “I used everything I learned in a fight in Utah and got the win there. A UFC fighter who was my roommate for a little while said there was a room open and if I wanted to move there, it was available for me. Since I moved here my skills have improved ten-fold.”
Now Wick will take what he’s learned and put it to use against a fighter he has had his sights on since he saw his coach go toe-to-toe with him. Wick is managed by Sven Bean, the owner of the newly formed LFA with which Wick is signed. Wick knows that through working with Bean, he is going to get his share of tough opponents that will give him a chance to climb in the rankings and perhaps eventually to Bellator and the UFC.
“I’ve wanted to fight Thiago Alves forever. I want good wins to promote me to the next level,” said Wick. “If I’m fighting a bunch of bums and have an inflated record, that’s not going to help me get to the next level. I want to fight as many tough guys as I can, and beating a guy like Alves who is ranked higher than me is going to help me move up.”
Front Street Fight fans have already seen Wick with his arm raised inside the CenturyLink Arena cage. Yet with the new addition to his repertoire, Wick believes fight fans can look forward to a much different and much more dangerous “White Mamba” at FSF11.
“Stay tuned, man. The last time you saw me at Front Street Fights, I was pretty choppy and I was pretty square. After all this time and ten years of training, I finally know how to use angles and it’s going to be pretty evident that using those angles is going to work well against Alves.”