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Paulo Thiago: I'm Not Ready for GSP

After he choked out Mike Swick at UFC 109, Paulo Thiago firmly established himself as one of the top welterweights in mixed martial arts.

But is Thiago ready to face UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre? He doesn't think he is.

Thiago told Brazilian site Tatame that he doesn't know who his next opponent will be, but he doesn't believe he's in line for a title shot just yet.

"I'm not worried about it yet," Thiago said. "At the right time the UFC will give me the chance. I'm getting experience, feeling more comfortable. I'm not ready yet."

Thiago said that finding the right game plan for St. Pierre would be just as important as being prepared to fight him physically.

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

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.