Like many other fighters in the increasingly competitive ufc, the former highly-touted prospect Paulo Thiago knows full well that he’s fighting for his career each and every time he steps into the Octagon. Since famously making his debut by pulling off a monumental upset and TKO’ing current UFC Welterweight Championship contender Josh Koscheck, Thiago has struggled to find a secure foothold in the UFC. And now more than ever he knows that another defeat may mark the end of his UFC career.
Here’s what Thiago recently told Tatame, with English translations courtesy of MMA Mania: “I think if I lose I’m out. I have to train all that has to be trained… I am just training hard and waiting for my next fight, they still have not told me anything about my next fight… Now it’s kill or be killed, just one more chance.”
Thiago is 3-3 in the promotion since debuting in early 2009. Big wins over the aforementioned Josh Koscheck as well as Koscheck’s teammate Mike Swick have been tempered by losses to Jon Fitch (another one of Koscheck’s teammates) and Martin Kampmann. Thiago entered the UFC with a flawless 10-0 record, his three career losses have all occurred inside of the famed Octagon.
Perhaps most importantly, Thiago is on a two-fight losing-streak, suffering back-to-back losses to Kampmann and most recently Diego Sanchez. Barring a few exceptions here and there, there’s a clear precedent in the UFC that a three-fight losing-streak is the surest way to find yourself in the unemployment line. Thiago was not over-embellishing, not in the slightest, when he said that his situation was “kill or be killed”.
I think Paulo Thiago is simply another hot-and-cold fighter in a long line of hot-and-cold prospects that don’t live up to all of their hype but aren’t necessarily bad fighters either. I can’t really point to one thing in particular that Thiago has done wrong, he seems to match up perfectly against some opponents while other opponents make it look easy to beat him. I will say this, though: if Paulo Thiago loses his next fight it wouldn’t surprise me at all if word came in the following days that he had been released from the UFC.
I know that’s a harsh stance to take, but as the UFC itself is so eager to point out nowadays, it’s a dog-eat-dog world in MMA’s #1 promotion. If Paulo Thiago wins his next fight, and rest assured, there’s a good possibility of that happening, then I’ll be more than happy to see him continue to try and find secure footing in the UFC. But if he loses again, I think it’s time for the UFC to put Thiago in the “what could have been” bin and send him back down to the minor leagues. And who knows? Maybe a temporary UFC exile will be good for Paulo Thiago.
Despite the fact that Thiago is a very talented Mixed Martial Artist, dark days do appear to be ahead for the man. But as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Perhaps this two-fight losing streak will come to a dominant end in Thiago’s next fight, perhaps he’ll finally make the changes necessary to realize his full potential. Anything can happen in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and I look forward to seeing which Paulo Thiago becomes the dominant Paulo Thiago as we head into 2011.
And what about you, fans and friends? How important do you think Paulo Thiago’s next fight is, and do you think we’ll ever see him compete for a UFC championship?