Monday, February 8, 2010

Paulo Thiago: The Real Deal

A man stepped into The Octagon at UFC 95 to face Ultimate Fighter alum and highly touted welterweight Josh Koscheck. This man was 10-0, but it was against lesser competition, so no one really knew who he was. But after that night, the world would know just who Paulo Thiago was.

Thiago knocked out Koscheck with an uppercut-hook combination, and was immediately thrown into the fire that is the UFC's welterweight division. His next fight was against Koscheck's teammate, widely regarded No. 2 welterweight Jon Fitch. Thiago hung in there, but lost the decision. He returned to his winning was at UFC 106, defeating Bellator FC veteran Jacob Volkmann by an impressive decision. However, Thiago returned to the trial-by-fire when it was announced he would rematch Koscheck at UFC 109. Things didn't even get easier for Thiago when Koscheck withdrew from the fight with an injury. Apparently American Kickboxing Academy took great offense to him upsetting Koscheck, as another one of his teammates stepped up to replace him and fight the Brazilian. This time it was Mike Swick, the former UFC middleweight contender, who had dropped to welterweight and was making a run at the title until losing to current No. 1 contender Dan Hardy at UFC 105.

The fight was a lot closer on the feet then people thought. Thiago was landing good punches, and staying out of trouble if Swick looked to start taking control. In the second round, Swick hit Thiago with a good punch, but Thiago was able to counter with a hook that floored Swick. He followed the AKA product to the ground, and locked in a D'arce Choke that left Swick unconscious. With that win, Thiago proved his loss to Koscheck was no fluke. His only loss is to Jon Fitch, and with the consensus having him as the No. 2 guy behind GSP, there's no shame in that. I still want to see Thiago fight Koscheck again, knowing that Thiago isn't a pushover anymore. I would also like to see how fairs against someone like Thiago Alves, another high-caliber welterweight he was rumored to fight. Either way, if Thiago doesn't get burned by the flames, this gauntlet could lead him to welterweight gold.

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