Paulo Thiago fights in Brazil for the first time in nearly three years at UFC 134. | Photo: Marcelo Alonso
One of Brazil's most notable UFC fighters, Paulo Thiago was one of the first athletes announced for UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro. This Saturday, the Brasilia native will face once-beaten David Mitchell on the preliminary card, strongly motivated to overcome two straight losses inside the Octagon.
The biggest aid that Thiago has had training for Mitchell? Time. Thiago believes that the greater notice he had to train for Mitchell will be crucial for him.
“This camp was the best I've ever been on since I debuted in MMA. I knew of the fight in big advance, I'm training with great partners, so I'm really confident,” Thiago explained to Sherdog.com. "Beyond that, I will fight in my country, and it will be awesome. Since I knew UFC would return to Brazil, I dreamt of being part of that lineup.”
“It's going be great, because I will have fans on my side, won't need to worry about traveling, time zone, nor food,” he smiled.
The 30-year-old Thiago started his MMA career 10-0, fighting only in Brazil. However, he has since gone 3-3 in the UFC, and hasn't got the chance to fight at home for nearly three years.
According to Thiago, the affection fans all around Brazil are giving to him, especially his fellow Brasilia natives, is motivating him even more. Thiago also explained how his friends and co-workers within the Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) in Brasilia has supported him with even more passion before his homecoming bout.
“Everybody is on my side. I always meet people on the streets, in the gyms, saying they're going to cheer for me,” Thiago said. “Here in BOPE, my friends are really looking forward to see me. Some have bought tickets, some are going to reunite here in Brasilia, but everyone is cheering for me. When I went there to say goodbye before traveling, everyone came to wish me good luck.”
With a .500 mark in the UFC and after two straight losses, the Brazilian representative knows his fight against the David Terrell-trained Mitchell may be crucial for his future inside the octagon.
“I know this fight is determinant for me. It's hard to see someone surviving under Zuffa banner after three losses, so it's a delicate moment for me. But I don't even think about another loss, I'm motivated and trained hard to make a good fight and I will,” said the Constrictor Team standout.
That's not to say Thiago isn't concerned with his opponent himself, but Thiago was straightforward when discussing how he planned to attack Mitchell.
“Mitchell has a reasonable striking game, but he's really good on the ground, attacks a lot looking for the submission,” Thiago analyzed. “I expect to neutralize his game as I impose mine.”