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As Brazil’s capital and fourth largest city, Brasilia is without question a beautiful metropolis. There is no shortage of breathtaking views, great restaurants and wonderful people. But beneath its beautiful exterior lurks something more sinister. Other Brazilian cities such as S?o Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte have long been known for their serious crime problems, but recently Brasilia has also had its share of violent crime. Fortunately, the good people of Brasilia have one of the toughest men on the planet protecting them from harm. That man Paulo Thiago, a UFC fighter and member of the Basthardt Fight Team.
Paulo Thiago grew up in Brasilia. He went to school there and started training in judo at age five. Growing up in a lower middle class neighborhood wasn’t always easy. However, he worked hard and was able to overcome all the obstacles life threw at him. At age 13, Paulo had to start working; eventually he worked at his mother’s bakery where he had to wake up at 3am to carry big bags of flour. At 15, Paulo discovered and fell in love with jiu-jitsu. Once he reached the brown belt level he started boxing and even fought in a couple of boxing matches without a loss.
However, it wasn’t fighting that was Paulo’s dream. His dream was to become a special operations police officer. So, in 2003 he applied to the police force and was accepted. Two years later he joined the Special Operations unit after four tough months of training.
“It was the four toughest months of my entire life.” Paulo says.
As a Special Operations officer, Thiago has dealt with more than his share of low lives and thugs. In fact, ask him to recall a particular dangerous situation and he says:
“There are too many to even name. Drug dealers, thieves, murderers and suicidal citizens are just part of my job.”
In 2005, Paulo finally had his first MMA fight. Through three rounds of combat, Paulo was beaten up by his more experienced opponent. However, Paulo was able to persevere and overcome yet again by submitting his opponent at the end of the third round. That fight marked the beginning of what should be a great fighting career.
Before knocking out Josh Koscheck in his very first UFC fight, Thiago was invited to participate in Jungle Fight by the legendary Wallid “the Gracie Killer” Ismail and later joined the Constrictor Fight Team. Everyday Thiago goes to Brasilia’s Clubcoat Fitness Center to train with other world-class fighters such as Rani Yahya, Alex Nacfur and Dimitri Wanderley. It’s no easy task training with these guys. From 9am to 10pm he trains in MMA, wrestling, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, judo and does physical conditioning.
In his Jungle Fight career, Thiago posted an astonishing 10-0 record. Thiago says he’s never faced an easy opponent. But his toughest test came against Olympic judo fighter, Ferrid Kheder, whom Thiago defeated via unanimous decision after three five-minute rounds of brutal combat. It was a great win for Thiago. But as Thiago says:
“As a Constrictor team member I would have much rather won via submission.”
That’s the thing about Thiago. He’s never satisfied. He constantly trains to make himself better. If you think he’s worried about his next UFC fight you’d be wrong. The truth is, he doesn’t care who he fights, he just wants to compete. And recently, he’s signed a promotional contract with MMA sportswear company Basthardt to help him with his training and become the fighter he knows he can be.
“Paulo’s intensity and drive to succeed are what made him so attractive to us. The way he fights and trains hard day-in and day-out is what we look for in a Basthardt fighter.” says Christian Mikolasch, Basthardt Director of Branding,
When many people think of UFC fighters they think of imposing thugs who would rather crank your neck than speak with you. But that’s not the case with Thiago. The truth is, he’s just a regular guy. He enjoys action movies, barbequing with friends and spending time with his beautiful wife and twin five-year olds. As with any parent, Thiago’s children mean the world to him. He knows the money he makes in MMA will help provide them with a better life.
Josh Koscheck was supposed to steamroll Paulo Thiago in London’s O2 Arena at UFC 95. Virtually every prognosticator and MMA enthusiast predicted Koscheck would knock Thiago out with ease. But that wasn’t the case. It’s a good thing for Thiago too. The UFC gave Thiago a rare one fight contract. Most likely they assumed Koscheck would easily defeat Thiago and the best way to avoid cutting him was to only give him a one fight deal. But a vicious Thiago uppercut and thundering left hook put an end to that school of thought. Now they know Thiago isn’t someone whom they should take lightly.
Thiago is committed to training hard to becoming a better fighter no matter what. He just wants to get in the octagon and show the world that he’s not some chump who slipped in a lucky punch at UFC 95. When I asked him if he thinks he needs to work on anything after viewing tape of his first UFC fight, he responded by saying:
“All I know is that I’ll always have many things to work on to improve my skills. It’s tricky believing that I’m good enough and have nothing else to learn or get better.”
So, what does the future hold for Paulo Thiago? Is there a UFC contract in the future or maybe even a rematch with Koscheck?
Thiago says, “Right now my plans are to continue to train hard; that’s all that concerns me. Everything else is up to my manager, Wallid Ismail, and the UFC organization. What they tell me to do or who to fight ‘s what I look forward to.”
But one thing is clear-the fighters he’s had to face in the UFC and Brazil’s Jungle Fight League are a welcome distraction from his every day job. His wife and kids are what keep him motivated. And the next time he steps into the octagon, he isn’t just fighting for the Basthardt Fight Team. He’s fighting for them as well.