Thiago (14-3, 4-3 UFC) vs. Siyar
Bahadurzada (20-4, 0-0 UFC)
The Matchup: Thiago faced a murderer’s row of 170-pound talent to begin his UFC career, squaring off with the likes of Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Mike Swick, Martin Kampmann and Diego Sanchez before being granted something of a reprieve against David Mitchell at UFC 134. There the Brazilian was in fine form, getting takedowns, hunting for submissions and executing ground-and-pound en route to a unanimous nod.
As a former Top-10 welterweight, Thiago represents a stern test for Octagon newcomer Bahadurzada. A former Shooto light heavyweight champion, the Afghanistan native enters the UFC riding a six-fight tear, including four straight by knockout or technical knockout. The Golden Glory representative has tasted defeat only twice since 2005, to Kazuo Misaki and Jorge Santiago under the Sengoku banner.
A recent winner of the United Glory 2010-2011 welterweight grand prix, Bahadurzada favors a frenzied pace on the feet. He throws punches with authority but often leaves himself open to counters. Thiago prefers a more measured approach, and when opponents rush him he is capable stepping in with power punches. Sanchez was able to overwhelm Thiago with his relentless pressure and pace, however.
On the mat, Thiago has a significant advantage. While Bahadurzada will work and throw punches inside an opponent’s guard, he can also get sloppy and leave himself vulnerable to submissions, as he did against Tommy Depret in his most recent bout. Such an error will not be forgiven by Thiago, who is at another level on the ground. The Constrictor Team product is composed on the floor, rarely makes the wrong decision and also understands how to escape from trouble. He’s also solid at creating scrambles and reversing position off of attempted takedowns.
The Pick: Bahadurzada is an entertaining striker and will bring high-level action for as long as he lasts, but Thiago is a tough draw for a debut. Eventually the Brazilian will capitalize on a Bahadurzada miscue and get the submission in round three.
Next Fight » Dennis Siver vs. Diego Nunes