Paulo Thiago Alencar Artunes may be one of the most underrated Welterweights in the world of mixed martial arts.
Thiago blazed his way into the mixed martial arts scene back in 2005 when he won his each of his first six fights by way of submission. A highlight of the Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s young career came in 2006 when he roared through Brazil’s Grand Prix Planaltina tournament by submitting all three of his opponents and becoming the tournament’s champion. With an impressive showing at the Grand Prix Planaltina, Thiago – who is also a member of an elite special police force in Brazil – would win twice more before signing with Jungle Fights in 2008.
After another three victories with the Jungle Fights organization, Thiago would earn a tryout with the UFC on February 21, 2009. A loss in the Octagon would make it easy for the UFC to cuts its ties with Thiago. But little did the MMA world know, Thiago didn’t come to simply “tryout” for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, he was here to stay.
At UFC 95, the fighter from Brasilia, Brazil would catapult himself into the upper echelons of the UFC’s welterweight division – and he would need only three minutes and 29 seconds to do so. Known primarily as a submissions specialist, Thiago shocked the MMA world when he won his debut in dramatic fashion and delivered a surprising first round TKO victory over top contender Josh Koscheck. The victory showed another aspect of Thiago’s fight game and immediately thrust the Team Black House fighter into many leading mixed martial arts publication’s top ten Welterweight lists. After losing a tough fight at UFC 100 to Koscheck’s American Kickboxing Academy teammate Jon Fitch, Thiago would rebound and smother out the then undefeated Jacob Volkmann en route to a unanimous decision at UFC 106 and again prove why he is as dangerous as they come in mixed martial arts.
The loss to Fitch remains Thiago’s only blemish on his MMA record, but with an impressive record of 13-1, the Brazilian is looking to force his way into UFC Welterweight title contention when he takes on his third AKA opponent in the form of Mike “Quick” Swick at UFC 109 on February 6. A victory against Swick would not only make him 2-1 against the highly lauded AKA stable, but it would also put him in welterweight title contention.
At 28 years of age and only 13 pro fights to his name, Paulo Thiago has proven to be one of the more interesting prospects in the UFC welterweight division.