Not many men have made as big of a splash in their UFC debut as Paulo Thiago. Going up against title contender and top welterweight Josh Koscheck, Thiago scored with a cruise missile of an uppercut that put Koscheck in la-la land and effectively won a huge upset.

In fact, Thiago’s early UFC career showed much promise. Though he lost to Jon Fitch in his sophomore effort, the fact he was even considered for that fight showed how much the UFC brass thought of him. In a subsequent Octagon effort, he pulled off one of the most impressive submissions by D’arce choke, sending Mike Swick, a highly regarded Octagon veteran, into a nice slumber.

In staying with the high-level competition, Thiago has fallen on some hard times. The Brazilian is 1-4 in his last five and finds himself fighting for his livelihood. He did beat mid-tier fighter David Mitchell to split the four losses in two, but decision losses to Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez and Dong Hyun Kim, as well as a brutal knockout loss to Siyar Bahadurzada, have Thiago fighting for his job come this weekend.

The big selling point for Thiago as a fighter is that he is a multiple-discipline black belt in the grappling arts. He is a black belt in both judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, yet Dong Hyun Kim, a man known simply for his judo discipline, ragdolled Thiago on the ground and made him look like he had never taken a class in either martial art before.

It was surprising he did not get the axe after the Kim fight, as it was easily the worst performance in his Octagon career. Add on to that the fact that Thiago was drubbed in just over 40 seconds by a debuting Bahadurzada in the previous fight, and you can see how this Brazilian has zero margin for error.

Thiago was originally slated to meet Lance Benoist at UFC on FX 8, but instead takes on Michel Prazeres, as Benoist bowed out due to injury. Prazeres is undefeated on the Brazilian circuit, but has not faced the level of competition that Thiago has seen.

Thiago gets sort of a gift in this fight, as Benoist likely would have been the stiffer competition. However, do not count out Prazeres. Having an undefeated record on the Brazilian circuit is no easy task, as the competition is quite fierce. Thiago should approach this fight with the utmost caution, knowing Prazeres is wishing to make a name off of him.

It’s win or go home time. Can Thiago save his job and remind us of the potential he boasted early in his UFC career, or will this be the last time we see the Brazilian special forces member as an employee of the largest MMA promotion in the world?

Photo: Paulo Thiago celebrates a victory (Sherdog)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.