John Howard makes weight for his UFC 124 bout Thiago Alves (Photo by Joshua Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

UFC welterweight contender Thiago Alves (18-7) controlled the action for all three rounds against John Howard (14-6) at UFC 124 on Dec. 11 in Montreal, but Howard isn’t pouting. Instead, he’s going to get right back into the gym and work to improve every part of his game.

Alves is known as one of the best strikers in the 170-pound division, but Howard, a well-versed Muay Thai practitioner himself, felt confident going into the bout that he could win the stand-up exchanges. However, Alves landed several leg kicks throughout the bout played a big role in the outcome.

“I didn’t get off the way I wanted to,” Howard told of the striking battle with Alves. “Those front leg kicks really slowed me down. After that, I couldn’t move the way I wanted to and get the power on my punches.”

Howard said that nerves didn’t play much of a role, even though he and Alves competed in a featured match in front of 23,000 rowdy Canadian fans, crediting Alves for his game plan and technique.

“I can’t take anything away from him; he fought a great fight,” Howard said. “I wasn’t close to being knocked out. He caught one of my kicks and dropped me with a straight right, but I recovered pretty fast. But those front leg kicks took it out of me. It was a learning experience. He showed why he’s a top ten … top five fighter in the world. ”

Howard said he isn’t thinking about who’s next in the UFC, only on getting back to training.

“I’m going to get back in there and work on all my skills … checking leg kicks, wrestling, [and] Jiu Jitsu. I’m just focused on improving right now.”

Lately, Howard and fellow UFC welterweight Anthony Johnson have been trading insults on Twitter in a war of words that dates back over a year, when a rumored showdown between the two fell through.

So would Howard like to settle things with Johnson in the cage?

“If he can make weight, I’d definitely be interested in fighting him,” Howard said.

Johnson missed weight for his UFC 104 clash with Yoshiyuki Yoshida by several pounds and had to forfeit part of his paycheck. He’s fought once since then, losing via rear naked choke to Josh Koscheck at UFC 106.

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