UFC Fight Night 32 Preview- Paulo Thiago vs. Brandon Thatch

Paulo Thiago (15-5, 5-5 UFC) vs. Brandon Thatch (10-1, 1-0 UFC)

Welterweight action hits the main card in Brazil as Paulo Thiago looks for his sixth win in the UFC when he takes on Brandon Thatch, who will be fighting inside the Octagon for the second time. Thiago is looking to get his record back over the .500 mark after getting it there with a win over Michel Prazeres at UFC On FX 8 in May. He is 2-4 over his last six fights. Thatch has a nine-fight win streak that he is looking to extend following an impressive UFC debut. He scored a quick first-round knockout win over Justin Edwards at UFC Fight Night 27 in August.

Fight Breakdown- Thiago quickly established himself as a threat in the welterweight division after having an impressive UFC debut. He knocked out Josh Koscheck in the first round in February 2009, a time in which Koscheck was heading towards a title shot. It moved Thiago’s record to 11-0 and a fight with former title challenger Jon Fitch. Fitch defeated Thiago at UFC 100 in July 2009, but Thiago quickly bounced back with back-to-back wins over Jacob Volkmann and Mike Swick. With a 3-1 record in his first four UFC fights, Thiago was ready to be mentioned in the title picture. He then ran into some trouble as he dropped back-to-back decisions to Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez in 2010. He got back into the win column with a win over David Mitchell, which moved him back over the .500 mark. He was then knocked out cold by Siyar Bahadurzada in April 2012, and followed that with a decision loss to Dong Hyun Kim. Thiago was looking at being cut with that 1-4 stretch, but the win over Prazeres helped him stay on the UFC roster, for now at least.

Thatch has had an impressive career thus far and is ready to make an impact at 170 pounds in the UFC. He lost the second fight of his career in 2008, which came in Strikeforce. He has now won nine straight fights since then, and he has proven to be a finisher in his career. All ten of his wins have come by stoppage, seven by knockout and three by submission, and the best part of it- all of the wins have come in the first round. The longest win of his career lasted only 4:12, and Thatch has won six of his ten fights in less than a minute. He is a product of the Grudge Training Center in Colorado, and he was one of the best prospects in the sport prior to his UFC signing. Usually, when a fighter is signed to the UFC, that ends his prospect status, and Thatch’s quick win over Edwards showed that he is ready for a step up in competition in just his second fight inside the Octagon.

Thiago has a very tough submission game and has good standup, and he is very tough to finish. He has only been finished once, and that was from a hard left hook from Bahadurzada as he was rushing in. Bahadurzada has a ton of power and knocks a lot of people out, so being knocked out by him is nothing to be ashamed of. Thatch also has a ton of power and is a skilled kickboxer. Thiago would be best served in establishing the takedown and working the fight on the ground as he has more experience there, and Thiago has a black belt in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. Thatch can create some fun scrambles, and if he takes Thiago’s back, he could work with some stiff ground-and-pound from back mount. Thatch does have those three submission wins, but he has never fought someone with the ground attack that Thiago employs.

Thatch is a headhunter and will be looking to end the fight on the feet. He has very good Muay Thai skills and mixes his punches well with his kicks and knees, and while Thiago can take a punch, he may not be able to take one like he once was able to. Thiago also tends to fade late and he did against Prazeres, and he was lucky to not have been finished late in that fight. Thatch is so explosive that we haven’t been able to see what he’s able to do if the fight is dragged into deep waters, and Thiago should be looking to extend the fight as long as possible. Thiago has good conditioning and using his grappling will be a way to drain Thatch as much as possible. Thatch’s explosiveness early, though, will make the difference in the fight. He is so dangerous on the feet that Thiago is going to be on the defensive side of things throughout the fight. Thatch is looking for that big win, and he will be getting it here.

Why It Matters- This is a big fight for both men as both are looking for relevancy in the crowded and tough welterweight division of the UFC. Thiago was once headed towards title contention, and now he is at the point of fighting for his job. A win over a touted prospect like Thatch would show that Thiago isn’t going down easy and would put him on his first win streak in over three years. Thatch wants to show that all of the hype he is getting is justified while at the same time overcoming his biggest test to date. Thatch has the chance to be something, and we will see if he is able to be different from, say, Erick Silva and beat a long-time UFC veteran in his coming-out party.

Prediction- Thatch

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